The good thing about having a kid is, literally, reliving your childhood all over again. Coming home from work, then heading to a holiday lighted hay ride is a good way to forget my adult responsibilities that would otherwise send me to my Maker’s Mark and humidor.
The other day, I drove past a plaza near where I grew up to see the K-Mart was no longer in business and most of the shopping center was dark. It was surreal as the guys I grew up with and I would spend hours riding our bikes to that parking lot, playing manhunt inside the K-Mart (we must’ve gotten thrown out by store security a hundred times) and, generally, doing anything possible to keep from going home.
Fortunately for me, I’m lucky enough to see the same guys at 37 as I did at age 9. While I’ve developed great friendships in my adulthood, there’s something comfortable about being with the guys you grew up with.
No better time of year to realize that than the holidays. While I let you know last week everything that annoyed me about Christmas, here are the things about the holidays I couldn’t possibly live without:
Lights! I love Christmas lights. I turn in to a five year old at the site of a well decorated house. Not only that, I enjoy putting them up. Every year, I decorate my own home, as well as my mother-in-law’s. I crack a few beers and make a night of it. And, yes, the Christmas music blares on the radio while doing so.
Two Christmas movies…first: ‘The Polar Express.’ My daughter and I watch this all the time and it’s her favorite to watch in my truck while we’re driving. My cousin Nick’s daughter, however, takes the cake on Pol-Ex pride…she has watched this movie, no kidding, every single night for over a year. ‘The Polar Express’ also gives us one of the great movie lines…”Funny thing about trains. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, what matters is deciding to get on.” The other holiday flick I can’t get enough of is “A Christmas Story.” I’m the idiot that enjoys the 24 hour marathon on Christmas Day, especially since the alternative is the NBA. Who didn’t have similar thoughts as Ralphie as a child?
The week between Christmas and New Year’s…I take off every year. Nothing but buddies, bowl games and bourbon.
The food this time of year is outstanding! Beginning with a Thanksgiving feast through the New Year, it’s an endless supply of turkey, ham, seafood and lasagna! It’s also the only time of year I eat sweets.
Yes, I’m a sucker for Christmas music. That don’t make me gay, does it?
So, getting back to my old friends. I sat with two lifelong pals at our local watering hole on Sunday as I spent the afternoon with the least amount of interest I’ve ever had in an Eagles game. The following are things I had more interest in as the Birds took on the Dolphins:
1. The New Orleans Saints. Not just because they’ve been my adopted second team for years but Drew Brees is my fantasy quarterback.
2. Just how many people in the bar were paying attention to a replay of the Flyers-Lightning game being shown. The three of us also discussed just why the bar manager felt the need to take up a TV on an NFL Sunday with a 14 hour old December hockey game.
3. What the hell were all those cheers at the end of the bar every ten minutes? The Eagles weren’t doing anything earth-shattering and the overall level of interest in most other games was fair to midland.
4. Why it was ok for the bartenders to dress like strippers and the bar manager to dress like she spent the morning picking tomatoes.
5. My guy, Nando, who was busy back at my house remodeling my master bathroom.
6. My beer.
Over the holidays, here’s hoping you get to spend some quality drinking time with some old friends and here are your week fourteen NFL Notes & Musings…
Best line Monday morning came from Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher who said, referring to Tim Tebow, “he’s a good running back.”
Speaking of Denver, their defense is playing so well and they have an all-world kicker, yet they get zero press and Tebow gets all the praise. I’m enjoying the messiah, too, but you have to give some credit to Denver’s defensive front seven.
I want to thank ESPN for making it easy to turn my attention away from football on Monday nights. Last week’s doozey of Jacksonville versus San Diego pails nothing in comparison to tonight’s fireworks extravaganza of Rams-Seahawks.
Say what you want about Eli Manning. The man is clutch and there are very few other quarterbacks on the planet I would want leading my team late in the fourth quarter for a win.
2 more down today as Kansas City’s Todd Haley and Miami’s Tony Sparano were both relieved of their head coaching duties, as predicted early on right here. Some guys are just coordinators.
Through fourteen weeks, the Indianapolis Colts have a whopping six interceptions.
Atlanta is 21-0 when Matt Ryan has a quarterback rating above 100.
Carolina’s Steve Smith is the 35th player in NFL history to record over 10,000 yards receiving.
Next Sunday is a sad day for me…the season finale of Dexter. Here’s my prediction: Dexter doesn’t get his man this time. The police kill Travis and Deb, for once, saves Dexter.
No surprise here…the cheap, classless Cincinnati Bengals organization gave the parents of Houston quarterback T.J. Yates nosebleed seats. In case you didn’t watch the game, let me tell you the stadium was empty. With the last second win, Houston clinched the AFC South.
Fourteen weeks in to just his eighth season, Jared Allen has now racked up 100.5 sacks.
Tampa Bay turned the ball over SEVEN times on Sunday. Can someone say, coaching change?
There were, reportedly, between twenty and twenty-five thousand Eagles fans in Miami on Sunday.
I’m so tired of watching Michael Vick. Not only does he refuse to look downfield when he feels pressure, his facemask is pointed at the ground. He also ignored himself when he stated earlier in the week that he would slide and not take as many hits.
Sean Payton + Drew Brees + zero turnovers = 20 wins, 0 losses.
Sunday was the first time the Patriots have ever beaten the Redskins on the road. Roy Helu is the first Redskins rookie to rush for over 100 yards in three straight games.
Wes Welker is the third player in NFL history to have four 100 catch seasons. He joins Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison.
Larry Fitzgerald is the most complete offensive player in the NFL. On Sunday against a solid 49er defense, he had 7 catches for 149 yards including a 46 yard touchdown and a 53 yarder to set up another score. What was most impressive was his vicious block that sprung Early Doucet for a 60 yard touchdown.
Denver has recorded at least a pair of sacks in twelve straight games.
Saturday, December 10th, marked the one year anniversary of the last time Aaron Rodgers lost a game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the second Buffalo quarterback to have consecutive 3,000 yard passing seasons. Jim Kelly was the first.
And finally, ESPN Films does a tremendous job with their hour long documentaries. The most recent, “The Marinovich Project,” details the life of former USC and Oakland Raider quarterback Todd Marinovich…his structured childhood, his fall to drugs and his failure in the NFL. If you get a chance, check it out. What stood out for me was how accepting he was of both how he grew up and the pressure put on him by his father.