Along with establishing himself as a top starting pitcher in Atlanta, Kris Medlen has spent the past few years entertaining fans and teammates with his great sense of humor. The easygoing Medlen and his wife, Nicole, are eagerly awaiting the chance to celebrate Christmas for the first time as parents with their 10-month-old son Max.
Medlen recently spoke to MLB.com about his holiday preparations and some of his most memorable Christmas experiences.
MLB.com: How much decorating have you done around the house in preparation for Christmas?
Medlen: I was never too much of a Scrooge, but I think my wife is more Christmasy. The day before we went to Augusta for Thanksgiving, she wanted me to start decorating so that when we got back, the house would be holiday-ish. So, I wasn't too excited about that idea. So I think she trumps me when it comes to the holiday spirit. But that doesn't mean I don't love the holidays.
MLB.com: Has your son taken a specific liking to any of the decorations?
Medlen: We usually get a real tree, but the big trees are starting to get pretty expensive. So we ended up getting a fake tree, but it's a pretty large one. Once we got that thing stacked up and all of the lights and ornaments on it, he started gravitating to it. But he's a boy. So he's obviously pretty curious. He's starting to walk now. So he'll go from the coffee table and start walking to the Christmas tree. He stops, gets on his knees and just throws up his arms. He's really excited, but he won't touch the tree.
MLB.com: Is there an even greater anticipation and excitement surrounding Christmas now that you're a parent?
Medlen: I don't know if my son comprehends the whole thing yet. But having a child, along with a great wife, really makes Christmas a lot more special. We're hosting Christmas this year at our house with her family and my brother and his kid. It's a lot more special when you have a bigger family and another addition to enjoy the holidays with.
MLB.com: Has the shopping process been more enjoyable as you think about how your son will react?
Medlen: He's in a mode that no matter what you get him, he just ends up playing with the box anyways. But that's what I love about the holidays -- giving gifts to people. I go out of my way getting gifts for my parents, my brothers and their family members, too. I want to make sure to get them something special, something they normally couldn't get. I really like getting them something nice. I think seeing people smile about the gifts we give adds to the whole thing.
MLB.com: Will you serve as the chef while hosting your family?
Medlen: I just got a new grill with a rotisserie. So I think I'm going to throw a wonderful piece of meat on the grill and let it slow cook. It will probably be a pork butt or something like that, something that will end up falling apart and be delicious. We were thinking about digging a hole and doing a pig underground, like Cuban-style. But the HOA in the neighborhood probably wouldn't think that would be a good idea.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?
Medlen: I was always outside. Living in California, it was still pretty comfortable. When I opened whatever gifts I had, which was usually sports equipment, me and my brothers would go outside and play with the basketball, baseball, bike or whatever. Almost every Christmas was like that.
MLB.com: Was there a certain baseball item you remember most?
Medlen: My life always revolved around baseball. So I always had gloves, balls and bats hanging around. We didn't have a ton of money. So I didn't get a new glove every year or anything like that. We had some pretty beat-up gloves. But those are the best ones, the ones that are soft and feel like a part of your hand.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
Medlen: One of our big family traditions was to get a bottle of peppermint Schnapps and everybody who was at the party, usually 30-40 people, would gather in one room, say something they were thankful for and pass the bottle around for a sip. Obviously the kids didn't get a sip. But it gave the family a chance to reflect on the year.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas-themed movie?
Medlen: "A Christmas Story" is easily my favorite Christmas movie, along with the "Muppet Christmas Carol."
MLB.com: How about a favorite Christmas song?
Medlen: The past few years I just throw on Pandora Christmas music. It's anything from Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble. I don't really download any songs. I just put it on the Pandora, throw on the Beats by Dre speakers and let it rock.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.