Holiday Q&A with John McDonald
Jays shortstop talks about daughter, Santa and more
With a growing family and a recent move to the East Coast, it's been a busy holiday season for Blue Jays shortstop John McDonald. He recently took a timeout from singing Christmas carols to his daughter to talk about the holiday season with MLB.com.
MLB.com: With a young daughter now, are you trying to establish your own Christmas traditions?
McDonald: You know, it's funny. We're waiting to see exactly how she's going to respond to everything. She sees Santa Claus in the house -- we have a talking Santa Claus and she loves it -- but when she went and saw Santa Claus she wasn't too happy. We'll definitely take her to see Santa every year.
My wife and I just bought our first real tree, too. We're were throwing a tree up on top of our truck and driving it home, and I realized half-way home that I'm driving around with a tree roped to the top of my truck. We actually were bringing it home to put inside the house. It was funny, I just never really thought about it.
My dad and I used to get a tree, but when it was my own tree and it was strapped to the roof of my truck, it's just a different feeling.
MLB.com: You mentioned going with your dad to get your Christmas tree every year. Did you have many traditions in your family growing up?
McDonald: My dad and I used to always go out to this tree farm and cut down our own tree. It was kind of our tradition. Growing up in Connecticut, on a Saturday or Sunday morning, we'd go out and get some hot chocolate and go out to this farm and cut down our tree. Inevitably, it seemed like every time we brought it home, we brought it up on to our porch so my mom could check it out. She'd get a good chuckle, because we never really picked out good trees. I always wanted to see the reaction from my mom and I'd be a little disappointed that she didn't like it (laughing). I wanted to pick out a good tree. I was trying to pick out a good tree.
MLB.com: As a kid, was there one present you received that really stands out in your memory?
McDonald: I got a Nerf basketball hoop that went on the top of the door in my room. It just kind of hooked on the top of the door. I think I got more use and my room got more wear and tear out of that Christmas present than any other. I was probably 11 or 12 years old.
MLB.com: How long did you believe in Santa or do you remember when you started to think Santa might not be real?
McDonald: What do you mean?
MLB.com: Oh, no.
McDonald: I believed for a long time (laughing). You still kind of believe in the spirit of Santa Claus. My wife and I both love the fact that Christmas has more to do with giving to others and helping others than getting presents. We've been adopting needy families during the years we lived in Ohio. You wouldn't really know who the family was, but you knew that you were buying the parents and all the kids all their Christmas presents. You might get a note in the mail months down the road as a thank you.
It was kind of in that tradition of working hard, and if the year doesn't end out how you wanted it to, there's still a lot of good in the world and still a lot of things to believe in. That's the spirit of Christmas for me and my wife. We did that every year we lived in Ohio. We just recently moved to Massachusetts, so we're still trying to get settled in. If we don't get to do that again this year, it's definitely something that's going to happen for years to come.
MLB.com: How many of Santa's reindeer can you name?
McDonald: All of them. Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. And Rudolph.
MLB.com: That's impressive.
McDonald: We've been singing all the Christmas carols to our daughter (laughing). I said them to you. I could have sang them to you.
MLB.com: Does your family have a favorite Christmas song?
McDonald: I like "Rudolph." There's "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I prefer the Springsteen version, but I don't sound that good, so I just sing the normal version.
MLB.com: How about a favorite Christmas movie?
McDonald: "The Polar Express." We never got into some of the old ones. "The Polar Express" or "Christmas Vacation."
MLB.com: How good would you say you are at wrapping presents?
McDonald: I think I'm pretty good at wrapping. I don't dress the present up that nice. I'm not putting many bows on them. But the ones I do wrap up, I feel it's a pretty good wrap job. It gets wrapped fairly well, but beyond the wrapping paper, my presentation is lacking. My wife is laughing at me right now.
Hold on. How would you rate my wrapping on a scale of 1-10?
She said I get a seven, but it takes me a little too long.
MLB.com: How would your wife rate your gift-giving skills?
McDonald: Let me ask. How are my gift-giving skills (waits for her to answer)? She says they're excellent.
MLB.com: Do you have anything in particular on your list this year? Or did the new contract extension with the Blue Jays and new house take care of that?
McDonald: It's definitely not about us anymore. There's so many kids in our family and extended family now, that for my wife and I, I think we're going to get one little present for each other. Also, adopting the families every year, we kind of look at that as our gift.
We're extremely fortunate to have the things we have. To move to a newer home and to be in baseball and have the security of knowing that I have a job for the next two years, Christmas definitely came early.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.