ST. LOUIS -- Christmas has long been a yearly highlight for Allen Craig, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. This Christmas, however, is poised to be the most meaningful of them all. Craig's wife, Marie, is due to give birth to the couple's first child around the Christmas holiday, and the couple has been spending the offseason preparing for the baby's arrival.
Just days before the expected due date of his daughter, Craig took a few minutes to talk with MLB.com about the family's holiday plans and to revisit some of his Christmas memories. Here is what he had to say:
MLB.com: Where and with whom do you expect to spend Christmas this year?
Craig: We usually stick around our hometown in Temecula, [Calif.] -- both my parents and my wife's parents are from here, and even our extended family is basically here in Temecula. It actually works out really well, because my family has a tradition of doing Christmas Eve dinner at our home, and Marie's parents will host Christmas Day at their house.
MLB.com: Can you give us an idea of what Christmas was like in the Craig household growing up?
Craig: Christmas was a big deal in my house. My mom always did a great job of putting up a lot of decorations, and going out and getting a Christmas tree was always a huge part of our tradition on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. It was just a good time to spend with family, and I always waited for Santa Claus with a lot of anticipation.
MLB.com: Have you begun to come up with new Christmas traditions since getting married?
Craig: Not really. With both of our families here in Temecula, we've just continued to keep Christmas as a big family affair.
MLB.com: What is on your Christmas wish list this year?
Craig: This year is going to be a little bit different because we're expecting our first child. That is our gift. She is due on Dec. 20. We could be in the hospital on Christmas or we could have a four-day-old. We'll see when she arrives, but that's what we're most looking forward to.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas memory as a child, maybe because of something you received or somewhere you went?
Craig: They were all great. I just remember being so excited about the whole process of Christmas. We have a pretty strong Christian family and would always go to church on Christmas Eve. Everything that comes along with Christmas was very exciting for me. There are so many great memories about it from my childhood.
I do think last year's Christmas was pretty special, though. Just coming off a World Series win and coming home and getting to share memories with both families was neat. We watched the World Series DVD on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. That was a really special thing for our family to be able to reflect on that together.
MLB.com: What is the worst gift you have ever been given?
Craig: I'm not sure that I have one. I was pretty blessed as a kid. My parents and Santa were always really good to me.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas song or movie?
Craig: My favorite Christmas song is "The Little Drummer Boy." My family and I used to watch those animated Christmas shows when I was a kid, and I just remember the Drummer Boy beating his drum and that song playing.
MLB.com: What have you been up to this offseason?
Craig: Pretty much from the day the season was over, I transitioned into getting ready for the baby. We had a lot to do, getting ready and situated for that. On the baseball side, I took a few weeks off from working out but have gotten back into lifting and running and getting back into shape. I will start hitting and throwing in the beginning of January, as I usually do.
MLB.com: With the new year approaching, what are you most looking forward to in 2013?
Craig: I think it's just exciting with the new addition to the family. I'm excited to start a family and see what that holds for us. Baseball-wise, I feel extremely blessed to be on such a great team with a great group of guys who have a chance to go to the playoffs every year. It's exciting in the offseason knowing that the season ahead could become really special for us. I don't really set too many personal goals. I just want to play the best that I can. And obviously, I'd like to get back to the World Series with these guys.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.