It's safe to say that working retail for most of my adult life has soured me a bit on the supposed magic of the holiday season.
I still have a soft spot for Christmas itself, but each passing year the lead up to it is met with relief more than anything. The bookstore I work at does the majority of its annual business in December alone, which means far more people and questions and gift wrapping than any other time of the year. I worry sometimes that losing the sentiment of the Christmas has turned me into a bit of a Scrooge.
Thankfully, I have a number of reminders that there is something to be treasured in the holidays - one being that I was the recipient of a special "Baseball Card Breakdown" Christmas-themed gift from Gavin that have been making the rounds around the blogs.
(Side note: today is my mom's birthday, and Mark Grace happens to be her all-time favorite ballplayer. Happy birthday, Mom!)
The Grace came at a good time since I'm way overdue in posting some other cards I've received from Gavin in the latter half of the year.
I was lucky enough to win a contest on Gavin's blog a while back, and got to cherry-pick a few cards from his trade bait stack as a result. I, like so many fellow bloggers, am immune to the pleasures of Gavin's customs, so of course I had to nab that bubble-blowing bonanza of collection favorite Tony Gwynn.
The Hoffman, however, is very much a real card, and one I've been targeting for a while since it offers a rare glimpse of his zero-year Reds days.
A few other prize claims from Gavin's contest - Reggie is a Burger King oddball, Jenks is an X-fractor (and yet another zero-year card!), and please give me all your Topps Retired Signature cards.
Gavin threw in a few bonuses with my prizes, including these two that get me a couple steps closer to this Pro Cards MusiCards set I'm kinda sorta trying to complete.
(Though I have to admit I've never been a huge Led Zeppelin fan, he says, ducking the fists about to come.)
A separate envelope from Gavin saw a few more excellent customs come my way, including this beautiful Kellogg's-That-Never-Was Dave Winfield rookie.
Winfield ended up wearing a lot of uniforms in his career, but I don't think he looked half as good in any of 'em than he did in the old yellow-and-black Padres jerseys.
A few other customs that are actually reprints of real cards - only technically, however, in the case of that Dick Allen, which was a Topps proof that never officially made it to market.
(Editor's note: I've since acquired the real deal of that Walewander, and the two look great next to one another in my Yankees binder!)
And here's the part where Gavin gave me a heart attack.
Yes, friends, that's indeed a true Ron Santo auto from Topps Retired Signature. It takes a lot for me to get revved up by an autograph card these days, but damn if this card doesn't do it. A beautiful on-card signature of one of the greatest Cubs in history, and longtime favorite of my collection. Hard to believe anyone would send this card free out of the goodness of their heart, but that's Gavin for you.
With friends like these, I really don't have much of a reason to be a Scrooge - please remind me of that this time next year when someone asks me if I can gift wrap 18 different books for them.