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The living room television in the Izegem house.

The living room television in the Izegem house. (Image credit: Zach McDonald)
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Zach McDonald en route to winning the D1 collegiate national cyclo-cross championship in Bend, Oregon.

Zach McDonald en route to winning the D1 collegiate national cyclo-cross championship in Bend, Oregon. (Image credit: Mitch Clinton)

During the holidays it seems that a favorite activity of families and friends is to gather together and spend time around the fireplace. Here in Izegem we try to keep traditions alive to help get us through the tough times even though we don't have a fireplace. The solution? We rely on Jim to provide us with entertainment.

I arrived here Tuesday and my days have delightfully been filled with the Christmas cheer of watching and interacting with Jim along with my fellow Euro 'cross campers. To sum up the importance of this holiday tradition here is what a typical day looks like.

The riders wake up in the morning and head downstairs for breakfast and one of the first ones in the kitchen will wander into the living room (which is attached to the kitchen) and, with minimal effort, wake up Jim. Thankfully Jim wakes up quickly and almost immediately provides a conversation starter for those at the breakfast table. Jim constantly provides new topics of discussion throughout the morning, which keeps the riders entertained.

After breakfast the riders head out on their rides knowing that Jim will be back at the house to entertain them when they return. After dinner the riders turn to Jim once again to get their entertainment for the night and it is usually pretty adequate and can last late into the night if one desires. Jim never seems to get tired of providing entertainment and seems to always be there for the riders when they need it.

However, as we have all come to learn at one point in life or another, not all good things can last forever. Unfortunately Jim had a falling out with a couple of the riders one morning. To some the conflict looked intentional but I believe that it was an accident that stemmed from the loss of the remote to the TV. Either way the outcome is the same and at the moment appears to be irreversible. After the altercation Jim stormed out of the living room and hasn't returned since. For the riders this has proved to be quite a depressing hit as most were quite close to Jim. They thrived on the countless hours of entertainment that Jim could provide. I wouldn't be surprised if some shed tears.

So far it has been hard to get used to life without Jim. The breakfasts seem quiet and empty but nothing seems to be hit as hard as the evenings. There is definitely less gathering in the living room where Jim used to provide the majority of the entertainment. The upside to the story is that Jim is still in the house and provides entertainment for those who seek it in their rooms. The exchange that happened in the living room has stayed contained to that area allowing Jim to still be involved in the lives of the riders in different areas of the house.