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Which team gets a lump of coal?

Which team gets a lump of coal? Which team gets a lump of coal?

Ahhh...the night before Christmas Eve. All my wife’s family will be gathered together at my mother-in-law’s house in Medford. The decorations on the two Christmas trees will be glimmering, the presents will be laying there ready to be ripped open and everyone will be in a state of pre-holiday delight.

It might sound like a good opportunity to watch a feel-good Christmas classic like “It’s A Wonderful Life” or “Miracle of 35th Street.” Or maybe we could play some games or just chat about life.

Instead, we will spend at least three hours the night before Christmas Eve yelling and screaming at the TV. Yes, the NFL has done it once again. They have chosen the Monday before Christmas to schedule a rivalry game between my wife’s family’s beloved Green Bay Packers and my cherished Minnesota Vikings. The result is a volatile mixture of football fanaticism and the quaint concept of “togetherness.”

Basically, we’ll all be in one place at the same time to witness our bitter rivalry play out its next chapter. Thanks a bunch, Monday Night Football.

I wrote about this phenomena three years ago when the Vikings and Packers played each other on Christmas Eve itself, and at the time, they each had a record of 7-6 and a playoff berth was on the line. (The Vikings lost that game, and the Packers made it all the way to the NFC championship game) This year, our records are much better, and there are still possible post-season implications.

Perhaps I won’t have to rely on a Christmas miracle this year for the Vikings to actually win. We’re undefeated at home this season, and as I always love pointing out, the Packers have yet to win a game at U.S. Bank Stadium since it opened in 2016. Another way to put that — one that is sure to trigger Cheeseheads — is Aaron Rogers is winless at the Bank.

You see my struggle here? It’s several days away from the actual game, and I’m already trash-talking. I can’t help myself. The purple-tinted blood that runs through my veins won’t allow me to be happy with anything besides a Vikings victory, even if it means a mood-killing defeat for my Packer-loving family just two days before Christmas.

In 2016, I wrote, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas will either be wearing green and gold or white with purple trim.” The home colors will be reversed this year, but unless there is another tie, either me or my in-laws will have to admit defeat.

Ah, well. We’ll get over it pretty quickly, I’m sure. There will be food and treats to eat, Christmas Eve Mass to attend, and plenty of gifts to unwrap. By the time Christmas itself arrives, memories of the Monday night game will be washed away by yuletide joy. By the time the playoffs start, though, that will have worn off.