By Douglas Farmer  

This might not be the best medium to communicate with my oldest brother, especially not when it comes to allocating my nephew’s time on Christmas Day. But this method worked for me a year ago. Why mess with success?

Besides, if my brother did not see this coming as early as mid-August, he has only himself to blame. Finding time to enjoy basketball with the 8-year-old and in doing so avoiding time with the rest of our family has become a bit of a Christmas tradition for me. I get to claim I am working on my “cool, smart, fun Uncle Douglas” résumé. I am really just enjoying basketball with another fan, my favorite pastime.

Two years ago, we spent the early parts of Christmas afternoon watching the Golden State Warriors, my nephew’s favorite team. My tolerance of that predilection is listed high on that résumé.

Last year I was unfortunately late to our annual “Siblings & Spouses” dinner because I took my nephew to the La Crosse Showtime game on Dec. 23. He was selected for a free throw shooting contest at halftime. Letting him partake seemed worth sacrificing 30 minutes of small talk about the menu at Lovechild. I already knew I wanted the braised lamb shank, anyway.

This year the NBA has done me a great favor. Uncle/nephew time will come at the expense of the disappointing conclusion of gift-opening, and it will be spent watching a player far more exciting than those Warriors.

The first game of the NBA’s Christmas Day quintuple-header features none other than the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo in an 11 a.m. CT tip against the New York Knicks.

Those two-plus hours are usually reserved for quiet wonderings why a certain gift did not appear under the Christmas tree and how Santa knew to get this exact Lego set. Someone will have to offer a bothered recipient an explanation of a shipping mishap. None of this goes well.

My nephew and I will skip all of that and just take our chicken wild rice soup in front of the TV, please and thank you.

By stating this here, I have committed my brother to it without asking him. Someone will mention it to my nephew, likely his grandmother, and he will know we are watching basketball on Christmas Day, no matter what mom and dad might say. Are they really going to deny us uncle/nephew bonding time? That would not be in the Christmas spirit.

We get to watch the gift that is a generational talent known by only his first name. I can try to convince my nephew there are worthwhile teams that do not have Steph Curry on them. This debate might even inform my nephew’s burgeoning basketball appreciation. I can offer him no better gift than that, though I will obviously still get him something tangible.

And when I fail, my brother will have to let the 8-year-old stay up after a long day, as the Warriors tip off at 7 CT that night. I’ll stay up long after that, enjoying the underrated nightcap of the Portland Blazers at the Utah Jazz. I’ll spare you the column discussing my illicit Jazz fandom.

It will be a very merry, basketball-filled holiday, indeed.

Douglas Farmer grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, before covering sports across the country with stops at The Los Angeles Times, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Dallas Morning News. He graduated from Aquinas High School in 2008 and from the University of Notre Dame in 2012, and now spends his professional time keeping an eye on the latter’s football team.