The most commonly accepted understanding of "the holiday season" extends from Thanksgiving until at least New Year’s Day (depending on your college football interests). It encompasses more than one month of every year and when executed to its utmost, requires all celebrants to ignore the reasons for every responsible decision they’ve made throughout the previous 11 months.
Eat piles of turkey, ham and pumpkin pie to the point of exhaustion? Yep. Feast on cookies, cake and homemade fudge throughout daily coffee breaks and walks to the car? Sure. Run yourself ragged with an untenable schedule of holiday events, spend wildly on credit cards to give children more toys than they’ll ever notice and hammer down rounds of rum, brandy and whipped egg whites on multiple weeknights, all in the name on the season? It’s been done.
Starting with the opening gun of the Turkey Trot and its post-race breakfast beers, every day of Buffalo’s immersive holiday season provides any reasonable resident excuse to veer off course of responsible routine. It’s a weekslong celebration of dietary, physical and financial irresponsibility, so it’s natural that such indulgences would result in a significant holiday hangover once it’s all in the rearview.
But getting back on track doesn’t require a bunch of unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Once again, this party happens annually, so why pursue unreasonable changes that will all fall apart again next November? You simply need to do some things to construct the type of reasonable lifestyle that lies outside the overt excess of the holidays, but one that still takes advantage of life within the region.
Ready to emerge from the freewheeling cycle of the season? Start with the following.
Wake up – without whipped cream
Over the last two months, we’ve eschewed our normal morning coffee for a few peppermint- or chocolate-infused substitutes. The season demanded it and it brought the decadent, caloric explosion and financial strain ($4.95 for a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha?) that came with it.
Transitioning away from these breakfast desserts and toward a standard coffee, tea or Americano (espresso and hot water) is the first step toward getting your weekdays started with a return to caffeinated normalcy.
Possible coffee: A regular Revolution Blend from Public Espresso + Coffee, inside either the Hotel @ the Lafayette (391 Washington St.) or its new location in the restored Shea’s Seneca (2178 Seneca St.).
Yes, you ran the five miles of the Trot, but it’s not typical for all of our exercise routines to conclude with rounds of Blue Light against the cacophony of Fleetwood Mac covers. This doesn’t mean your post-holiday exercise needs to be boring. It simply needs to pull you from beneath your pile of wrapping paper, holiday cookies and New Year’s Eve cocktail shrimp.
Regular walks through your neighborhood with friends are a good start. Signing up for one of the area’s myriad of beat-backed spinning classes is a popular option. Rediscovering your favorite sport in a manageable-intensity adult league is another.
Possible exercise: Indoor rock climbing at Central Rock Gym (55 Chicago St.), which offers a variety of awesome exercise opportunities for adults, kids and families.
Get motivated with music
Our natural, internal drive doesn’t always launch us into action. The need to burst from the holiday malaise and extra helpings of holiday ham should be enough to light a fire, but the right mix of music also can help break on through.
Best of 2019 lists are everywhere (whether via online publications or streaming services like Spotify), and can introduce you to artists that could diversify your decades-old diet of Stones, Zeppelin and Skynyrd. If you’re feeling more adventurous, check the live listings for the city’s plethora of small, large or lovingly ramshackle rock clubs.
Possible music research: New and used vinyl from one of the local record shops is a great start, including both Buffalo locations of Revolver Records (831 Elmwood Ave. and 1451 Hertel Ave.).
Spice things up
You’ve just spent the past 30 days or so eating like an entitled teenager, chasing elaborate cheese plates with decadent chocolates, then squeezing in some thickly sliced pepperoni and stuffed olives all before a buffet-style dinner.
Now that those days are over, you could try to get back on track with some taste-deprived healthy dishes, or you could drop-kick your taste buds with the sweat-inducing spices of something different. Thai, Indian or Burmese specialties could provide a change of pace and set the table with reasonable portions and relatively healthy dishes for those looking to reset.
Possible dining stop(s): Sun Restaurant (1989 Niagara St.) allows you to choose between Burmese and Thai favorites on the same visit. North Buffalo’s New Jewel of India (1264 Hertel Ave.) deals scorching dishes sure to please.
Reassess your finances
Spending money throughout the holidays is rarely done in a responsible manner. There are too many reasons for overspending, whether because of family commitments, smiling children or rationalizing it all as a once-a-year thing. But after the gifts are unwrapped and the bank statements are delivered, it’s a great opportunity to assess your holiday spending and reassess how you’re spending money on anything (mortgage, loans or cable bills).
Whether you choose to seek out monetary literature or meet with an industry professional, questioning your financial health is the first step toward improving it.
Possible financial help: Free financial education classes about everything from creating a budget to pursuing investments are delivered in a barlike atmosphere through MassMutual’s the Establishment (5110 Main St., Williamsville).
Find some quiet time
Assuming you’ve just spent the bulk of your season engaged in everything from uncomfortable holiday banter with work colleagues, cocktail-aided political battles with family members and daily wrestling matches with uncooperative toddlers, you’re probably ready for some quiet time.
The start of a new year is a popular time to commit to reading more. This isn’t about resolutions, but about finding calm away from the holiday mania and having a reason to leave the office (and your iPhone) for a bit. Start building your 2020 reading stack, then find an indoor spot until the weather breaks in April (or May).
Possible quiet time locale: If you’re downtown, seek refuge inside the Market Arcade Building (617 Main St.). The quiet expanse’s seats and café tables provide solace from your cube and space to dig into your lit list.
Make (more) time for friends
Finally, after all the time spent with friends over the past month or so, it’s still likely that you didn’t get quality time with all of them. This isn’t typical for just the holidays; it’s standard for everyday life, with too many weighty commitments getting in the way of what was once easy access to friends that, in the best cases, have doubled as family.
With the crush of the season now concluded, make an effort to schedule time with friends to ease you out of your holiday hangover and to help make for a more present 2020. It’s a good thing to strive for, and a resolution you might find easy to accomplish.
Possible meet-up: After you get moving with the previously suggested rock climbing, repel downward and reunite your gang inside Resurgence Brewery’s neighboring digs.