At Christmas, family rules all for Cuddyer

Mets outfielder building holiday tradition with wife and kids, and (of course) presents

At Christmas, family rules all for Cuddyer

Some free agents may struggle to relax over the holidays, as they stress about their futures. But not Michael Cuddyer, who signed a two-year deal with the Mets almost immediately after free agency opened in November. Since that time, like he does every holiday season, Cuddyer has made family a priority. caught up with one of the newest Mets to see what Christmas entails for him and his family: What was a typical holiday like for you growing up?

Cuddyer: For me, the holiday season is one of the more special times of the year. Growing up, it was no different. We didn't do anything too out of the ordinary. But one thing that was cool, that not a lot of people do, was we just stayed at home all day on Christmas. I have a sister, Katie, who's five years younger than me, and we got to open our presents and really enjoy them that day. We didn't have to go to other peoples' houses and things like that. So that was one of the coolest things, actually getting to sit and enjoy the stuff that Santa brought us.

Now that I have kids and my wife is from the D.C. area, my kids open their presents and get to play with them for a couple hours, then drive from my home in Chesapeake up to Northern Virginia. There's no traffic on the roads -- best day of the year to travel, probably. So my kids don't get to play with their presents the whole day, though they make up for it by getting to see my wife's family and getting even more presents. What was the best gift you ever received on Christmas?

Cuddyer: Man, there were so many. I remember one time, I think it was the Christmas when I was 9 or 10, I got a full-sized pop-a-shot basketball thing. I remember us wearing that out for probably about two or three years after that, so that was one of the ones that really stands out in my mind. Santa did a good job of erecting all the stuff while we were sleeping. So when I woke up, pop-a-shot was already there, already ready to use, which was cool. Lots of sports gifts growing up?

Cuddyer: Oh yeah, for me that's about all it was. I wasn't into matchbox cars, trucks, things like that. It's just like now, my son, Casey, is the same way. You can give him a toy or a car or something, and he'll be like, "Oh, that's cool." And then two minutes later, he'll go back to the basketball that he's had for years. What is the Cuddyer family looking like these days?

Cuddyer: I have three kids: A 6-year-old boy named Casey, and then twin daughters who just turned 3, Maddie and Chloe. This must be the first time the twins are really looking forward to Christmas then?

Cuddyer: Yup, and we already saw that. Their birthday was Dec. 6, and it was the first birthday that they really understood that, "Hey, it's my birthday. This is what it entails." So this whole holiday season is going to be pretty cool for us. Will Santa be leaving any Mets gear under the tree?

Cuddyer: If there's anything they don't already have [laughing]. We kind of loaded them up a little bit right out of the gate. They've got hats and shirts and stuff like that. No Cuddyer jerseys yet, though. We've got to get a few jerseys. They can wear them on your drive to Northern Virginia. Is that the only place you travel for the holidays?

Cuddyer: Yeah. Leading up to Christmas day, we're here in Chesapeake with my mom and my dad. Christmas morning, we wake up in our house in Chesapeake. Then right around lunchtime, right when my girls are ready to take a nap, we load into the car and take the 3 1/2-hour trip up north to see my wife's whole family, her two sisters and her mom. Any good food?

Cuddyer: Oh, chocolate chip cookies. My mom always made chocolate chip cookies to put out for Santa, and that's been my staple. I have a weakness for sweets, so any type of pie or dessert, that's my favorite thing over the holidays.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.