Loyal readers of UNC’s official sports website, www.tarheelblue.com, know that every Tuesday the site publishes the Tar Heel Mailbag. Since Christmas fell on a Tuesday this year, THB solicited stories from readers about their favorite Carolina Christmas memories.
My mom pointed out the call for UNC stories, and we immediately knew that we had a memory that was perfect in every way. So I spent a few minutes a couple weeks ago recounting Christmas 2006. When we woke up on Christmas morning a few days ago, it was a great treat to see our story on Tarheelblue, along with the link to the video. Thus far, more than 1900 people have viewed the video!
Like many Carolina families, ours has a long lineage of Tar Heel roots. Counting my wife, parents, and sister, we are 100% Carolina blue blood, having all matriculated through Chapel Hill. After the kids moved out of the house, my parents decided to take on another challenge and hosted a foreign exchange student for a school year.As luck would have it, our new “brother,” Vlado Milanovic, turned out to be a basketball fanatic. Through the wonders of satellite television, Vlado had grown up watching hundreds of NBA games with this family, right from his home in Bar, Montenegro. When he arrived in Greensboro, NC for the start of school, Vlado had understandable trouble with the intricacies of the English language – but he could name the starting point guard for every NBA team!
After only a few weeks in North Carolina, Vlado had been indoctrinated in all things Carolina. And while he enjoyed football Saturdays at Kenan, you could really see his eyes light up when he learned about the rich history of Carolina basketball. It wasn’t long before Vlado would fall in love with Lawson’s quickness and Hansbrough’s tenacity. And like any true Tar Heel, he developed a healthy disdain for our friends in Durham who wear a darker shade of blue. As basketball season ticket holders, my parents were able to take Vlado to several UNC games, where he was able to experience the pageantry and passion that make college basketball such a special game.
Yet there was one game that was impossible to find tickets for – UNC vs. Duke. We took special care to explain to Vlado that a Duke ticket is like gold in Chapel Hill, and that extra tickets just didn’t exist. Yet, through a little Christmas magic (and a whole lot of luck!), my mom was somehow able to secure one extra pass to the coveted event. So on Christmas Day the whole family could hardly wait for the big moment – when Vlado would open his final gift. As he opened the gift wrap and then stared in disbelief, I was worried that the young guy was going to hyperventilate. In his utter excitement he had seemingly forgotten to breathe – until he was finally able to scream with joy, “North Carolina/Duke game YESSSSSSS!!!!!!”
Needless to say, it was a Christmas moment this family will never forget. Words will never do it justice – that’s why we’re so glad we caught it on video. You can see our unforgettable Carolina Christmas memory here.