People born on Christmas get their celebrations lost in the glare of the holiday. Even those born near the holiday. In some ways, they have it worse. All the preparations, the distractions, and not even the quiet of Christmas Day. Add COVID, when all our birthdays are denied the attention they deserve.
And some individuals really deserve attention.
Where to begin? Let’s start in 1980, with the great Sun-Times sports columnist Bill Gleason sitting in the Bears locker room, amidst the discarded tape and sweaty socks, having a post-game chat. Gleason brings up Brian Piccolo, the Bears running back who died of cancer 10 years earlier, at age 26.
“What made you think of Brian?” he is asked.
Gleason replies he always thinks of Brian this time of year. Someone makes it easy for him to remember.
“He is garlanded with fresh flowers, a gentle hero among us,” Gleason later wrote, “because a lady who is beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside throws a party for him every autumn.”
That lady is Jean Malnati, who with her husband, Lou, founded Lou Malnati’s Pizza in 1971. She is one of those unfortunates whose birthday (Dec. 22) falls around Christmas.
“We’ll always have the Brian Piccolo Scholarship Party,” Jean told Gleason, 40 years ago. “I’ve never given a thought to discontinuing it.”
To continue reading, click here.