We’re almost two months into the 2017-18 season now, which means that we’re deep in autumnal bliss. The leaves have turned and fallen, the Leafs have done the opposite, and the air is crisp and refreshing. Winter is right around the corner, so you know what that means.
Oh boy. The holidays.
Not everyone lives in a fuckin’ Norman Rockwell painting, though. I’d wager that, for most of us, the holidays between the end of November and the beginning of January are our most stressful days of the year, which is totally bonkers. Shouldn’t this be the time for us to relax? To enjoy a brief reprieve from the hellacious reality of our blistering, splintering time, ever-dwindling into the ether of forever?
For the next several weeks, you will undoubtedly be faced with trials that will test your mind, body, and spirit. You will be worn thin, patience stretched beyond the point of no return. You will undoubtedly find yourself questioning your purpose, slowly losing your grasp on reality.
I’ve identified five common problems that people experience during this, the most complicated time of the year, and I will answer them accordingly. Get some wine, put on some Bing Crosby, and learn a thing or two.
Problem 1: You have seasonal affective disorder, and you feel thankful for nothing. You are sitting around the table, holding hands with people you may or may not want to be holding hands with, and listening to what these jokers have to be thankful for in this hellish existence. They fall like dominoes, one by one by one spouting their gratefulness, some goofy and some gut-wrenchingly heartfelt. That’s when it hits you. You are miserable. The sun sets at quarter to fuckin’ five. There isn’t anything to be thankful for, you think. Panic sets in.
Solution: Say “I’m thankful for Sean Couturier emerging as a legitimate, nay, preferred first line center in the NHL.”
This is the perfect response. It is just weird enough to get people to smile, it’s tapping into some real emotion that you actually still feel, and it’s true. That boy has been a monster. Immediately after you succeed mightily in the most stressful Thanksgiving tradition, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. (Oh, and also ... the seasons will change. It stinks being sad, but trust me, it’ll be alright in the end. Take a walk, maybe. Or do a face mask. Open a window. That usually helps.)
Problem 2: You’re trying to lose weight, but there is so much delicious food around. Hey, man. We’ve all been there. Well, most of us have been there. It’s like, you don’t get buffalo chicken dip every day! It’s a sometime food! But what are you supposed to do when the stuff is just staring back at you, taunting you? Beckoning you forward with its siren’s song? You don’t know temptation until dieting during the holidays.
Solution: Print off a sign that says “Jakub Voracek gave up carbs. So must we all,” stick it to your forehead, and never touch another carbohydrate in your stupid life.
The sacrifice that Voracek has made for this awful sport is amazing. This is the most sincere I will ever be in my entire life: the fact that Jakub Voracek gave up carbohydrates at one point in his life means that we all owe him our lives, or at the very least, a commitment to our own stupid weight loss goals. Of course, your only other option is to wear cargo shorts, store Ziploc bags in your pockets, then loudly knock a vase over in order to distract people while you shove food in your bags for later. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy all the very delicious foods at your leisure, when they fit in your diet plan.
Problem 3: Your relatives won’t stop asking about [school/job/significant other/general life plans] even though it makes you uncomfortable.
Just the thought of this is enough to give me a fuckin’ hemorrhoid. Mind your own business, Susan! I don’t ask about your divorce! The least you could do is avoid asking for clarification about my personal life going off the rails. There’s no elegant way to handle this, especially if you’re like me and you possess below-average interpersonal skills and a debilitating case of social anxiety.
Solution: Cough, mention Claude Giroux’s resurgence, and then immediately deflect. If you think about it critically, who is more relevant to your life: you, a historic noodle brain, or Claude Giroux, 19th captain of the Philadelphia Flyers and champion of the sun? Obviously, of course, it is the latter. If you’re here, reading this, I bet you’re pretty dang excited about the start that Claude has had to the year just like I am, so there is nothing more appropriate to get you out of this messy conversation.
Saying something like “Isn’t it amazing how all stat boys who talked about Claude Giroux’s demise are now stripped of relevancy and honor?” will confuse your assailant and leave them vulnerable to counterattack. Now is your chance. Strike with a furious vengeance. Target their weaknesses. Show no mercy. You have been preparing for this your entire life.
Problem 4: You have forgotten to buy a present for someone who bought you a present.
Oh, this is the absolute worst shit in the fuckin’ universe. It makes you look inconsiderate and cheap. A total asshole.
Not to get on your case, because that would be the last thing you need, but what were you thinking? They look at you expectantly once you have unwrapped your gift. Well?, their expression asks. Terror seizes your heart. You are backed into a corner, except the corner is filled with spiders and the spiders are actually snakes AND spiders, and they’re about to eat you alive.
Solution: Tell them your gift is taking them to a Flyers game at their convenience.
This is a fuckin’ great solution. Kudos to whomever thought of it. You don’t need any preparation, nor any forethought. Also, it totally puts the onus on them to cash in, which means, hey, maybe they never will! That’s not really the spirit of the holidays, but ... oh well.
Also, fret not if you think to yourself “I can’t afford a Flyers game.” The Flyers are incredibly average, so it’s not like people are gonna be clawing to get tickets anytime soon. The Flyers are basically daytime television. Nobody, like, willingly chooses to see it. It just kinda ... is there. Something to watch. Just get a couple 25 dollar tickets, and go appropriately nuts.
Problem 5: You are literally or metaphorically alone.
Doesn’t matter if you have plans or not, buddy. Loneliness will creep into your heart, frigid like ice water, whether you are by yourself in your home or surrounded by hundreds of friends.
Solution: Think about all the memories you’ve made with your life-long friends because of your mutual disdain for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Maybe you had a hard year. Maybe you listened to The Mountain Goats a little too often for your own good. Maybe you wallowed when you shouldn’t have. Maybe you took that loss to the Nashville Predators to heart. No matter.
Over the course of the last year, we’ve shared some good moments. Wayne was shirtless. Remember that? God. Good times. Laughton’s Mike Richards impression? Anytime Shayne Gostisbehere ever touched the puck? Claude Giroux on the wing? The honey bees? Brandon Manning killing Connor McDavid? (I’m joking, mostly.) I mean, god. Remember when the Flyers moved from 13 to 2? And then we got Nolan “mild rosacea” Patrick? Iconic.
I don’t know. I guess it’s dorky to put it in writing, but when you share these inconsequential things with people you love, people you care deeply for, it reminds you that you’re connected to something. It puts you in perspective. You aren’t alone. Not ever.
In the end, remember: sometimes, things don’t have to be marred by doubt or self-hatred or the ugliness we’re capable of dreaming up. Sometimes? Things can just be good.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the holidays, whichever you might celebrate.