‘Twas the morning of Christmas, all Bernards were yet napping, when Wynton so bold snuck down for unwrapping.
"I would be up at the crack of dawn, juggling all the presents and just keep checking my brother's room and parent's room to see if they had woken up," said Wynton Bernard, who spent last season with Double-A Erie.
The youngest of the three Bernard sons made it his mission to check in on the progress of his elder siblings and parents, but it was never quickly enough.
Once movement commenced about the house, Wynton's father, Walter, would trigger a Bernard Christmas staple. "My Dad would put on soul Christmas music--my favorite being the Luther Vandross Christmas Album," Wynton remembered.
As for the end result of Wynton's mission to see what was being held in the packages underneath the tree?
"After nagging my parents constantly, we wouldn't open presents until 2 in the afternoon," Wynton said. "My friends would ask me around 9 a.m., "What did you get?" and I would say, "I don't know, we have about five hours until we open them."
This was Christmas to Wynton Bernard.
Scattered around the Tigers' minor league system, you find stories very much this; stories with their own personal twist. It's the time of year where prospects at every level get a break from their rigorous routine of maneuvering through the regular season by stepping away to spend time with those who matter most.
Check out a few more memories from Tigers hopefuls as they settle in for Uncle John's off-key caroling, a post-dinner nap or two and, of course ... fruit cake.
Double-A Erie SeaWolves pitcher Tommy Collier
"One of my favorite memories around Christmas time is going to the candlelight service at church. I praise the Lord everyday, but that service gives me goosebumps every time. There is no better way to celebrate the birth of Christ. I'm forever grateful that God gave his begotten son. Christmas is such a momentous day."
Double-A Erie SeaWolves pitcher Josh Turley
"My favorite Christmas memory was a tradition that my parents had for my brother and I as children. We would wake up on Christmas morning and meet my mother in my parents' bedroom while my dad set up the video camera. We would then pray together as a family before my brother and I raced to the tree to see who could open their first present faster. It was something I didn't have much appreciation for when I was little because I thought they were just prolonging our favorite part of Christmas ... the presents. Now that my wife and I have started a family of our own, I want to carry on this tradition because we have so much to be thankful for and we want to pass down the true meaning of Christmas to our children."
Short-Season Connecticut outfielder Cam Gibson
"We kind of do some traditional things on both sides. Christmas Eve with my Dad's family, we have a cook off. There will be a theme for everyone to cook. This year is 'Something Wrapped,' so everyone will bring a dish of something wrapped (tortellini, stuffed cabbage etc.) and whoever has the most money in their bag at the end wins and donate it to the charity of their choice. On my Mom's side, we do more music stuff. When it's at my house, I usually hop on the drums, me, my brother and uncle get on guitar and we put on a little concert for the family. The best part of the show is when my Papa Louie, my Mom's Dad brings out his accordion and really shows us all how it's done."
Short-Season Connecticut pitcher Ryan Castellanos"My favorite Christmas memory actually comes from Christmas Eve night. Every year me and my family would have "Noche Buena," which is the Spanish version of Christmas Eve dinner. Traditionally, we would eat pork and we would do an entire pig roast with about 20 of our closest friends and family. Unfortunately, we don't do it at the same scale we did before, but we still get together with family and friends and cook something."