NEW YORK -- Typically, Mets infielder Justin Turner helps his father string the Christmas lights each winter outside the family's Southern California home. A Santa Claus sleigh with all nine reindeer highlight a display that might make Clark Griswold blush.
Earlier this offseason, Turner was vacationing in Hawaii, learning to surf while his father untangled the lights back home. Turner returned to discover a new addition in his yard: a light-up baseball player complete with Mets logo.
"It looks like David Wright," Turner said, laughing.
Seems Mets pride is strong in Southern California, where Turner lives within easy driving distance of most of his family. Heading into next season, Turner will be looking to secure at least a backup infield job, and potentially more, on New York's roster. For now, though, he is simply enjoying the holiday season with his relatives.
MLB.com recently caught up to the infielder to discuss his Christmas traditions.
MLB.com: What is a typical Christmas like for you?
Turner: Christmas Eve we spend with my dad's side of the family. Every year it alternates, being at my parents' house and my aunt and uncle's house. It goes back and forth. All my cousins come over and they all have little kids, so it's a pretty cool night. They get done and go home, and we always do our Christmas that night, Christmas Eve, with my immediate family -- my mom and dad and sister. We exchange our gifts usually around midnight. That way, in the morning, we can wake up and go over to my mom's parents for Christmas with that side of the family. My grandma and grandpa cook this big breakfast for everyone. There's even more kids on that side of the family, so we do more gifts over there. After that, we go home and relax for a little bit, then back over to their house for dinner.
MLB.com: Sounds like a lot of driving.
Turner: Well, it's not that much, because pretty much everyone on both sides of my family lives within 15 minutes of each other. So it's nice.
MLB.com I'm guessing then that you've never had a white Christmas?
Turner: Well, my grandparents have a cabin in Crestline, which is just below Big Bear [a major California ski area]. We used to do Christmas Eve up there, and there's been snow. But we never stayed the night there, so it's not like we were waking up to it. For a few years, I would get up early and go over to my cousin's house in the morning and watch their kids open gifts from Santa and their parents. That's why we always did our own gifts the night before, because I'd be bouncing around all morning.
MLB.com: What kind of spread do your grandparents cook up?
Turner: There's eggs, there's French toast, a French toast casserole, there's bacon, ham, waffles, everything. It's good.
MLB.com: What's the best gift you ever received as a kid?
Turner: The best probably was when I was 3. I got a tee and a bat. That was a good Christmas. My parents took a video of it. I got a tee, a basketball hoop and a slide. I would slide down the slide, hit the ball off the tee and then go slam dunk the basketball. I did it like 50 times. I just kept going and going and going and going. They all make fun of me for that.
MLB.com: You vacationed in Hawaii earlier this offseason. Looking forward to the Christmas season as another way to relax?
Turner: Yeah, I don't know when it was that I hit that point. When you're a kid, you're excited for Christmas because you can't wait to open all your presents. Now, I don't even want anything. I just look forward to watching my little cousins open their gifts and getting so excited. I don't know at what point it was that I changed my perspective.
All I ever want -- my favorite gift that I get every year -- is from my grandma. She gets me underwear and socks. It's such an underappreciated gift, you know? When you're a kid you're like, "What? This stinks. You should have just given me money." Now I'm like, "Yes!"