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Monday, December 23, 2013
Holiday treasure

By Nneka Ogwumike

Nneka Ogwumike
Nneka Ogwumike, right, and family drove overnight from Houston during Christmastime last year to see sister Chiney play for Stanford.

In the midst of basketball season, it's easy to forget about the holiday season. In between games and practices, we, as athletes, try our very best to bring holiday cheer with us wherever we go. Though celebrating Christmas with family may last only a few days, my family and I make sure to make the very most of the rare time we can all be together.

From Christmas in Mexico to a full-blown family reunion in Washington, D.C., I've seen my share of holiday adventures. Surprisingly enough, however, my most favorite Christmas memory was last year's holiday. After playing the first half of my rookie year overseas in Poland, I was able to come home to my family for a week and a half; a week and a half that was quite eventful.

After arriving back home in Houston, my two youngest sisters and my parents decided to drive overnight to Tennessee to surprise Chiney at her game. The trip was grueling but well worth it. Chiney was completely shocked, played awesomely and got the win before we all drove back to Houston to celebrate Christmas. It was the first time since my Stanford graduation that we had all been together. Midnight Mass was beautiful, everyone was more than satisfied with their gifts and Christmas dinner nearly paralyzed everyone. It was truly special.

After enjoying the time I had with my family, I then followed Chiney back to "The Farm" to catch a game and see some familiar faces. My trip to California made me realize just how much I'd become a Cali girl (honorary, of course). I felt like I was home again when I saw some many people from my Stanford family.

Before I knew it, though, it was time for me to get back to work. As I got ready for my journey back to Poland, I couldn't help but be thankful for the best Christmas I'd ever had. It was simple: I spent the most important time of the year with the most important people.