Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. For me, Christmas is a giant pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending Christmas Day with my parents, but everything else just sucks.
When I was younger, I thought the Christmas Spirit was a real thing, because everyone seems happier during the holidays. Turns out, the Christmas Spirit is bourbon. Now that I’m older, I totally get why the adults seemed happy and cheerful: they were drinking to decompress from the stress of the season.
Christmastime especially sucks when you’re underemployed. I work a bullshit job that I hate, and all my relatives have kids who’ve gone off to work for NBC, or law school, or medical school, or are married already. When I tell them that I’m single, graduated, and living at home, they look at me the same way I look at people who play music loudly in public without headphones.
That’s another thing, whoever said “Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year” has never been yelled at by a 75-year old man because their eggnog latte “didn’t taste enough like eggnog” People are stressed out this time of year, and it makes them extra shitty sometimes, and we’re supposed to just smile through it?
I know I’m going full Bah Humbug here, but it’s true, Christmas sucks. The only things I like about it are 1) getting a tree and decorating it with the folks, 2) listening to the Frank Sinatra Christmas album, and 3) getting my parents gifts I know they’ll love. That’s it.
In this installment of weird historical events, I’ll touch on The Great Molasses Disaster, one of my favorite wacky accidents, that devastated the North End of Boston. On January 15th, 1919, a storage container holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, flooding the streets at 35mph and killing 21 people.
Now, let’s unpack this a little. First of all, let’s picture what 2.3 million gallons of anything coming at you like a soccer mom in a carpool lane. Not great. Now picture molasses: it’s gross, it’s sticky, it’s heavy, and the more you try and fight it, the quicker it’ll take you under, like some sweet-smelling version of quicksand. Now imagine you’re on your way home from one of the many amazing restaurants in the North End when you hear something that sounds like a freight train roaring down the street, enveloping you in some sticky bullshit that slowly drowns you.
Why did this happen? Simple physics is to blame. New England weather is wild, we can go from 60 degrees and sunny, to -5 and snowy, in the same day. That’s what happened ln January 15th. The molasses was previously warmed to make it easier to transport, but when the newly-delivered molasses met the previously-delivered cold molasses, the difference in heat caused the molasses to expand and puncture the container. Thankfully, storage regulations changed, and now there aren’t any more industrial accidents*.
After all the damage was done, and the flood of molasses was cleaned up, over $9.18 million dollars (adjusted for inflation) in damage was done. Locals say that on a hot day, you can still smell the molasses. I’ve been to the North End in the summer, and I don’t buy it, unless molasses smells like the combination of great Italian food, garbage, and stale beer.
I hate snow. It’s the worst part of winter. If you’ve never had to shovel snow, you’re lucky, it’s awful. Imagine this: it’s 7am, you’ve got to go to work in an hour, it’s 15 degrees out, the wind is blowing cold air straight into your brain, and there’s 200 pounds of frosty bullshit blocking your car in. You really can’t just ignore it, or it’ll freeze into an immoveable block of ice that won’t go away until May.
As I type this, it’s snowing out, which means that I’ll have to venture out into the snowy roads. There are few things worse than driving your crappy front-wheel drive sedan in the snow; you have to be careful turning, speeding up, slowing down, stopping, going uphill, going downhill, it’s just a nightmare. The only thing worst is how people from New England drive in the snow. You’d think they’d get used to it, but no, they still drive like nothing’s there, and end up running off the road, or crashing into each other. Every time I see some yokel in a giant SUV going 65 in a 30 with 5 inches of snow on the road, I wonder what’s going through their head, do they want to skid off the road into a snowbank, because that’s how you skid off thebroad into a snowbank.
Other than that, snow isn’t all bad; it’s pretty to look at, as long as I’m not planning on going anywhere and I’ve shovelled the important parts of my house. I love walking down the street during a snowstorm, looking at the snow-laden trees. I can only handle snow until New Years, anything after that just bugs the hell out of me and is an inconvenience.