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I was surfing through Facebook when I came across one of my friend’s posts with a picture of an advertisement from the 1960’s showing the annual Sears Wish Book catalog.

It brought back so many memories of a time long gone by.

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My brother and I could hardly wait each year for the catalog of dreams to arrive so we would fight over who could look at it first. Being four years apart we had different interests in what we were looking at, but still wanted to be the first to dream about what Santa was bringing for Christmas.

As army brats our family moved every couple of years to follow where the army sent my father. We were always nervous if Santa would know where we were, but somehow, he always knew.

But then again, so did the Sears Wish Book.

Looking back now, I wonder if Sears and Santa shared mailing lists.

Especially when we lived overseas, I looked forward to being introduced through the magic of those catalog pages to the latest and greatest toy back home because that was the only way we kept up with what was going on in the world. I couldn’t wait for Santa to bring me my G.I. Joe with “life-like” hair and Kung Fu grip, my Evel Knievel stunt bike and action figure and, of course, my Baltimore Colts uniform kit, complete with jersey, football, and helmet.

Even as an old man now, the excitement of that book still reverberates within my soul.

When I saw that post of the cover of the Wish Book with a young boy and girl reading a book with Santa on the front cover, it made me think about not only how grateful I am for all of the blessings that I have, but that during this time of year we allow ourselves to dream a little of what we want if we had unlimited access to everything in our own “Wish Book.”

At this time of year, especially over the last few years, the Baltimore Ravens are always looking at the stretch run in a “must-win” or “win-to-get-in” scenario, having little to no margin of error to lose a game and oftentimes needing help to back-door their way in to the playoffs. Even as they wrap up the drama-filled 2017 NFL season with a chance to advance, my first wish would be to have years like 2010 and 2011, when the Ravens comfortably took their 12-4 record into the playoffs and rewarded their once passionate fans with a home playoff game or two.

How nice would it be to be watching the game this weekend planning our tailgate festivities for the first- or second-round playoff game the Ravens would be hosting, instead of wondering to which city our boys will be traveling? Or to not have to look back on every game during the regular season and wonder if Marty had opened up his playbook a little earlier in the season, or if Dean hadn’t switched back to his Swiss Cheese “bend but don’t break” defensive scheme in the final minutes of the game’s end, and we had won a few more of the games that we should have won, who would they be hosting in the AFC Championship game?

I’d flip into another section of the Wish Book to find another professional sports franchise in Baltimore, this time in the game that has given me so much, the “beautiful game.”

Whether it’s the independent, non-league Baltimore Kings or the new National Professional Soccer League team, F.C. Baltimore, or even another unnamed or undecided team at this point, my wish is that Major League Soccer recognize the passion of the soccer fans of this city and the surrounding communities and award Baltimore a franchise. Our fan base would easily sell out a 30,000-35,000 seat stadium for every home game and provide an electrifying atmosphere in which to play.

And maybe because I haven’t written about it in some time, or because it’s continuously been like that “one” gift — that one you dream about from the catalog that for whatever reason never makes it under your tree — how about this year, after all these years of waiting patiently, this is the year that plans for a new turf field complex or initiative to scatter turf on the high school and rec fields across the county find their way under my tree.

There is finally movement from our elected officials to consider the option; let’s just hope they can make the wishes of every high school and recreation council athlete come true and bring Carroll County’s athletics facilities in to the 21st century.

American writer Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”

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And sometimes, those wishes do come true.

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