Archives For Christmas Eve

The holidays went well, thanks, but they were different. For the first time in a few years, I decided to spend an entire week at home around Christmas. This wasn’t my first option but it ended up as the most practical for a couple of reasons.

First off, I was heading in to the first of the year with a bunch of vacation days. Use ‘em or lose ‘em! I didn’t want to lose them so regardless of where I was going to spend the week, it definitely wasn’t going to be in the studio.

Second, the weather this time of year can be dicey-at-best in the northeast, and so the idea of flying to multiple locations can not only become pricey, but simply impossible thanks to Mother Nature.

And that leads me to point number three: I needed to be home for not only Christmas but the following Saturday, when my cousin Anthony would be sworn in as Town Justice for the Town of Niagara. Anthony is my best friend and he won in such convincing fashion during the primary that by the general election, he was the only candidate on the ballot. I’m extremely proud of him and wouldn’t have missed the day for anything.

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The idea of flying back-and-forth twice between Buffalo and New York around the two weekends crossed my mind. I eventually decided against it due to reason number two and it worked out because it afforded me a chance mid-week to return to my alma mater and see family there as well (in addition to watching my Syracuse Orange win against Eastern Michigan).

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That was the other nice part of staying back in Western New York for an entire week – I had the opportunity to visit with a lot of family and friends while still taking a few days to do absolutely nothing. I needed it more than I knew.

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Do I wish I wouldn’t have packed on a few extra pounds and would’ve been able to run outside a little more? Of course, but my Mom’s home-cooked meals were worth it.

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Took me what, almost 10 years? But I finally figured it out. When I return home to visit family in Western New York for Christmas, I should stick around for about four nights.

Here was my issue in years past: I would only visit my parents back in Niagara Falls about three times a year. Also, I would usually end up with a ton of vacation to use before the end of the year otherwise it would be lost. So between not wanting to give up too much of my free days (I would inevitably lose some anyways) and falling victim to my mother’s guilt trip, I would stay home around Christmas for close to a week.

And by the sixth or seventh day, I would end up singing the same tune: next year, I can’t stay home for this long. I love my family but hanging out back in the house I grew up in just makes me a bit stir-crazy.

So this year I switched it up. First, I spread out my remaining vacation days over the final month-and-a-half of the year to ensure that I wouldn’t lose any. This also gave me a bunch of long weekends and quite frankly, one of my most enjoyable holiday seasons in recent memory. Then, I scheduled my trip to WNY around Christmas but made sure to just give myself enough time to see my family and attend an extra event or two, nothing more.

Mission accomplished. Saw all of my family plus a bunch of my friends, attended a few holiday parties, visited Orchard Park to watch my Bills lose to the Dolphins (don’t get me started) and drank a few Labatt Blue Lights in the process.

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Other food highlights included my favorite meal of the year: Christmas Eve’s Feast of the Seven Fishes and a final night pit-stop to GoodFellas’s in Niagara Falls for my favorite pizza and wings.

Of course the most important part of the trip was my time at home. Almost as enjoyable was leaving Niagara Falls and not thinking that next year I should spend any less time there.