"Wanna play Santa Ball?" she asked. "I just invented it, and I'm the best."

My daughter came into the room at full speed and stopped at my feet, like the Roadrunner, holding a large blue balloon with polka dots and wearing a fuzzy, gray hat. She stuck a huge smile in my face and asked a question I had never heard.

"Wanna play Santa Ball?" she asked. "I just invented it, and I'm the best."

I did.

She handed me a winter hat and instructed me to put it on.

"You're going to need a helmet," she said, pointing to her own hat with cat ears on top.

"Why do I need this?" I inquired.

She threw her arms in the air. "Because it's time to play Santa Ball!" she announced in way that carried throughout the stadium.

Santa Ball, as invented by her several minutes before, is a captivating ball game that requires equal parts strength and intellect.

"But you'll get it," she said. "I'll teach you."

The aim of Santa Ball is to hit a balloon in the air and not let it hit the ground.

"And if you hit one of the stockings, you score a point, and get to pull a prize out," she added. The prizes included such gems as a pony, a coaster and the remote.

Our game got as intense as lightly tapping a balloon can get, which is very intense. And it woke her little sister up from a nap.

"Wanna play Santa Ball?" my oldest asked.

My little one, still groggy, rubbed her eyes and started to look around the house. "Where's Santa?" she finally said.

"He's not here, it's just the name of the game," I answered. Slightly disappointed, she agreed to join us.

The holiday spirit is alive and well in our house. Before bed, my 2-year-old leads me around to look out each window at the colorful lights outside. Both of the kids' artwork is exclusively focused on scenes of decorated trees, snowmen, Santa and other holiday themes. And the big boxes of decorations that we have yet to put up taunt them; as does the Advent calendar.

There's no need to look at a calendar to know what day it is in December. Our girls will tell us, thanks to their Advent calendars. One is wooden with drawers. Each day you pull out a tiny ornament to hang on a tiny tree. Another, still wrapped in plastic, is full of chocolate. This is the one they are especially eager to start. We brought it out around Thanksgiving and said they had to wait until December to open it.

"Next year, we should get one that has more days on it," my oldest said. I agreed.

We played Santa Ball long enough that eventually everyone was just falling all over the place and giggling. When we were done, we put all the little prizes away, and I reclaimed the remote.

"Can we still play Santa Ball after Christmas?" I asked.

My daughter thought for a second and shook her head. "No, then it would just be hitting a balloon around," she said. "But that's fun, so we could just do that."


David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at david.manley@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: @DaveManley.