End Of Year One

 An oldie but a goody.

An oldie but a goody.

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 31)

With the old Sunday Paper, at the end of the year I always liked doing the top ten stories of the year in the sports world that I cared about.

Since this is no longer so sports-centered, that wasn't going to work for the reboot.

I struggled to think of a way to do the end of the year Sunday Paper here, then this week I thought it might be fun to do some sort of list.

With your help over at the Facebook page, I've culled together some categories for a list to wrap up Year One of version two of the Sunday Paper.

And I think we might have a new tradition on our hands.

So I don't know how these lists will look in future years, but since today is Christmas Day, it felt appropriate for this list to have a decided holiday feel.

I like this because it gives me something to write about, and the topics are such that it's information we might never otherwise cover in a Sunday Paper post. We're breaking format again, though I had to include a little comedy information before the end of the post.

Thanks to those who contributed over at the Facebook page, and I look forward to contributions here or there as well - put your feelings about these topics in the comments of this post or in the comments on the Facebook page. I'm just as interested in learning about what you have to say as clearly you are in reading what I have to say....assuming that's why you come back every week.

OK. On with the list:

Favorite Christmas Song: This was the starting point for my list...and I got stuck on it and then asked for your help to come up with other topics. I know Christmas music can be divisive, but I'm squarely in the "I love Christmas music" camp...I usually just wait until it's closer to December to put the radio exclusively on the Christmas music station. As far as a favorite, I like the classics - The Drifters' "White Christmas", anything - anything - by The Ronettes - but if I had to put on a song right now I would choose Kelly Clarkson's "Underneath The Tree". It came out at Christmas in 2013 and didn't seem to get a lot of airplay in 2014 and 2015, but I was pleased to have heard it quite a bit this year and I love that song. (I wrote about it as one of my "365 New Things In 2013", so I'll let you read that if you're interested in more.) [If I had to pick a least favorite Christmas song, it would be Air Supply's version of "Winter Wonderland". Ugh. Can't stand it.]

Favorite Holiday Binge Activities (Thanks Joel!): I can't say I have a consistent favorite holiday binge activity. (Or activities.) But...I mean, eating. I will sit and eat the entire vacation away if I had the chance. There's the bowl games, which I guess would be tops on this list...but I should also mention that a couple of years ago my brother got me a free year of Netflix for Christmas. It was a great gift, and I sat and binged on shows like Archer, Bob's Burgers, and Kathy and I caught up on Arrested Development from the beginning (which we hadn't watched all of) and then watched that new season that came out. So I guess, given that option, we'd binge-watch some shows...but considering the likelihood of that interfering with my work, it's a good thing it's not an option.

Favorite Holiday Traditions, Common New Year's Resolutions, and Favorite Holiday Movies (Thanks Michael!): OK. I wrote about some of my favorite holiday traditions back in 2013, so I'll just link to that, next week we're going to tackle New Year's Resolutions, so we'll go with Favorite Holiday Movies here: I don't watch a lot of movies. I think many of you know that about me and if you didn't know it, now you do. My feeling is if I'm going to spend a couple of hours on something it's likely to be a sporting event. But if Elf is on I'll watch it every time. (The first two-thirds, anyway. The ending is garbage.) Same with Christmas Vacation - that's also a nice memory because we saw that in the theater when it came out. I will say that as the girls have gotten to an age where they'll sit and enjoy a movie I enjoy watching them watch a movie like Home Alone or Elf or even just watching something shorter like A Charlie Brown Christmas with them.

Least Favorite Holiday Movie (Thanks Danielle!): I do not have enough data to answer this question, probably. Here's a fact: I've never sat all the way through A Christmas Story. Is that because I don't like it? Maybe. It's never kept my attention long enough to make it through. So maybe that's my least favorite? I know everyone else in the world loves it so maybe I should give it a chance. Or maybe it's my least favorite holiday movie. (Not counting the ending of Elf. And let me be clear here, not the very very end of Elf...that's kind of sweet. Just the whole Central Park scene with the Central Park Rangers and all that. Garbage.)

Favorite and Least Favorite Holiday Desserts (Thanks again, Danielle!): Hm. I love a good dessert. There's this place on Route 20 in Sudbury called Franco's Trattoria. Last year (or maybe it was two years ago) Kathy and I discovered this dessert there that I think they call Dynamite Bites and they were so delicious we ordered a bunch for Christmas and brought them to our celebrations with her family and then my family. I think they went over well with everyone. I can't tell you exactly what was in them but they were chocolatey and gooey and delicious.  But that's a very specific dessert. If we're going more general I just love apple pie. I don't know if I have a least favorite. I don't have the biggest sweet tooth, but I also am not very picky. I'll say this - every year my mom has a plate of honeyballs, which she loves, but I've never found appealing. It's hard to say they're my least favorite because I've never really eaten them, but the fact that I don't eat them - does that make them my least favorite holiday dessert? Maybe. They're the A Christmas Story of holiday desserts. Or maybe A Christmas Story is the honeyball of Christmas movies. You get the point.

How To Actually ENJOY The Holiday (Thanks Marybeth!): Funny that you wrote this this year. Usually I just love the time leading up to Christmas and I enjoy it all. This year I got kind of stressed. I can pinpoint a couple of things that stressed me out: there was a lot going on with the kids at school and none of it was synched up. One needed to bring in forks for a classroom party and the other's list of what she could contribute didn't come until much later. One needed to bring in a box filled with treats, like a salty treat, a fun treat, a healthy treat. We've done this before, but this time for some reason, with everything else going on, I had trouble wrapping my head around exactly what would work. I even tried plotting out ahead of time - popcorn as a salty treat, clementine as a healthy treat - but when I went to the supermarket I wandered around trying to pin down what to get and nothing seemed to work. (Popcorn started to seem like a bad choice for a kindergartner and the girls didn't want clementines so I couldn't buy a box and have 20 left over.) One of my daughters suggested just buying one apple. Great idea. And for the other solution, other parents stepped up so maybe we'll contribute to the next class party when things feel less hectic. SO. My advice on how to enjoy the holiday...I need structure, so lists and specifics wherever possible. (I also went blind into the gift shopping this year - that might have contributed to some stress...in past years as the year went on I've made a list of gift ideas that I kept pinned to the December page of the calendar.) And when other people offer to help, take them up on it. It'll likely make them feel good, and it'll help you out. And, and this one is something I do every year, find a couple of nights to relax with a glass of Scotch and a bowl game. (Or something that relaxes you like a holiday movie. [But not A Christmas Story. {Or the ending of Elf.}])

Favorite Christmas Memories (Thanks Diana!): This is a hard one. There's too much to pin down. I would say that more often than not there's been something memorable on Christmas or about Christmas. But if I had to pick one absolute, tippy-top favorite Christmas memory it would have to be this year, Christmas morning, and the look of joy on my daughters' faces...as I open up the coffeemaker I'm sure Kathy got me.

Well, that was a ton of fun to write. Thank you to everyone who contributed on the Facebook page ("Like" it if you haven't already!) - it's nice to get the interaction going over there. I really enjoyed that.

The fun's not over! Put your own answers to the above topics in the comments below or in the comments of this post on the Facebook page. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

Allow me this quick comedy plug: If you're looking for something fun to do on New Year's Eve, allow me to recommend this great comedy show at Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham. I told you about Sean Sullivan a couple of weeks ago - here's your chance to see him. Kristin O'Brien is also funny, I've seen her perform a bunch. And I've never seen Artie Januario perform before, but we've hung out together in a green room and he was super-nice to me. So support that venue and that show. (Tickets look like they're going fast.)

And then if you want to see me perform, on New Year's Day I'll be part of a great celebration called '100 First Jokes' where about 200 comedians tell their first joke of the new year in two shows. There's a 7:30pm show and a 9:30pm show - I'll be in the 9:30. It's a great time, come out if you can.

Merry Christmas, if Christmas is your thing. Thanks for reading.