This Saturday night when the Saints host the Dallas Cowboys will be the Saints first Saturday game in four years. The last - Christmas Eve, 2005.
Thinking back to that one revives a lot of awful memories in contrast to this Saturday's game which evokes such wonderful prospects.
I remember that game on Christmas Eve of 2005 in the depths of depression for a city and its professional football team. The Saints would lose to the Detroit Lions, 13-12, in the final "home game" of the season in San Antonio. I remember the broadcast team had arranged along with the officiating crew to get a police escort to the airport to beat the traffic in order to make our flights home to be with our families on Christmas Eve.
I remember lifting a toast at the airport as we awaited our flight - a toast to the prospects of never having to see San Antonio, Texas, again. Though its citizens had treated us fine, thankfully I never have.
None of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams what the future would hold four years - nearly to the day - later. Not only could we not have imagined the state of this franchise, we weren't sure back then what state the franchise would be in.
Now we have an unbeaten football team. The best team in franchise history supported better than it ever has been in a facility that has never been better.
And of all the wonderful things this season has meant for us all, I think that some of these in the long run will prove to be the best:
This team has created a new, bigger, and more positive generation of Saints fans than the franchise has ever produced. You see black kids with Brees jerseys. You see white kids with Colston jerseys rooting as one for a Saints team that has never been more deserving of its fans on and off the field.
And this is a new generation of Saints fans raised on winning and pride instead of losing and embarrassment. These kids are spell-bound till the final seconds in the Superdome by a team that never gives up. Mine meanwhile - and perhaps yours as well - were often so disinterested in another lackluster loss that the second halves of games were spent trying to see if you could land a paper airplane fashioned from the game program on the playing field, engaging in a game of Nerf-football on the concourses, or trying to commandeer a serving cart to luge down the walkways.
What this team has meant to fans of all ages when it comes to civic pride is inestimable. I didn't know where we would be four years ago, but I can safely say I never envisioned it would be here in this way.
In this magical season - in this magical Christmas season - these circumstances should remind us all of how the Redskins might have summed things up to their neighbors a week ago today after all the improbable things that contributed to the winning streak's perpetuation.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Saint-a-Claus!"