In Holiday Guide

When it comes to your favorite athletes being Santa, like the Bucks' Brandon Jennings, it can be hard for them to shop. (PHOTO: Milwaukee Bucks)

Holiday shopping can be difficult for athletes and families

Dear Uncle Jeff,

How are you? I hope the season is going good for you. For Christmas this year, I would like to have:
Beats by Dre head phones (the big ones that go over your ears)
The new Call of Duty Xbox game
The new Derrick Rose shoe from Adidas
Gift cards to Apple Store or Best Buy (for an iPad mini)

Thanks and Merry Christmas,
Little Bobby

Jeff Saturday laughed, deeply.

He doesn't have a "little Bobby" in his family, but he definitely knows that the professional athlete in the family always seems to get the shopping list that includes the most expensive items on it.

"They don't want the $10 Starbucks card anymore," the Green Bay Packers center laughed. "They want a little bit more on there."

The holiday season can be a tough one for athletes, as they are often not just the breadwinners for their own immediate family, but the caretakers of a larger, extended group. They help out year-round, in whatever fashion they can, which means gift-giving around the holidays can be tricky.

"You know that you've been blessed a little more than most so you try to be generous when you're giving, especially to those who are closest to you, but there is always a limit," Saturday said.

"You always have to make sure you're balancing what you have to take care of in your responsibilities with other people's expectations and don't let those become what you're trying to match. There are always a little nicer gifts coming through your list, you know what I mean? "

He laughed again.

But for some, it's not a laughing matter.

Packers rookie Mike Daniels was pretty clear when asked if he was going to be playing the role of Santa in 2012.

"Not at all. Not at all," he said. "My family knows not to approach me with any foolishness because that's when they get cut off. The ones that aren't going to come ask me for anything will get the good stuff. If they've got their hands out, they don't hear from me."

Some, like NBA veteran and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Marquis Daniels, has been able to find a balance in gift-giving.

"It started off as light gifts but it's getting more expensive," he admitted. "But I got the point now where I just get my mom, my wife and my kids and my brother's something, my sister – everybody else – I love y'all, but I'm not going to keep buying y'all gifts."

Other athletes feel fortunate that they have families that don't ask for much, and realize the demands place on their loved ones because their salaries are made public every season.

"I've had the privilege to have a wonderful family who doesn't really ask for much," Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said. "People like that, it's easy to give stuff to (them), easy to give thanks to (them). That's about it. I love the holidays and things like that."

Added Milwaukee Admirals defenseman Victor Bartley: "My family is good like that. I'm the youngest sibling of the two of us and we have an understanding of no gifts for each other, which ends up being something small here or there. I only get about 2-3 days at home during the holidays so we like to spend it together and just have fun."

On the flip side, athletes acknowledge they are relatively hard to shop for.

"At this age, I don't really need too much," Bartley said. "Usually my mom will get me socks or boxers or something to keep me going. Or maybe some Tim Horton's coffee to bring back here. That's about it."

"They do say that, but I'm happy with anything," Williams said. "Most of the time I tell them I don't need nothing for Christmas. I've been like that since I was younger. You know you've always got kids who are like 'I want this, I want that' but I told my mom I don't need anything for Christmas. But obviously you always get something. I don't really look forward to gifts, but if I get 'em I'm thankful."

Marquis Daniels usually finds himself camping out at Best Buy for the latest in electronic gadgets as soon as it's released, so his family is always telling him he is difficult to shop for.

But for him, and many of the other professional athletes in the state, the greatest gifts are found not in what's unwrapped, but in who is around.

"I'm grateful for whatever they get me," Daniels said. "Just seeing them smile, seeing them happy is good enough for me."


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