From a very young age, I was fortunate enough to receive gifts on various days. Birthday, gifts. Hanukkah, gifts. Christmas, gifts. Easter, gifts. July 4, gifts. May Day, gifts. Groundhog Day, gifts. Arbor Day, gifts. Halloween, gifts. Flag Day, you get the drill.
We got gifts a lot and learned early-on, that gifts are more appreciated when they match your expectations or desires.
The easiest and obviously fake analogy could be when a child is promised a pony for his fifth birthday and he ended up getting a runt hamster from a litter of 17 that he appropriately named Simon after Simon and Garfunkel and then one day when this boy, let’s call him Jeff, was away, Simon went on vacation – at least that’s what mum said – and then he must have come back because we found his little body in the electric baseboard heater in my room.
Strolling roughshod over any psychological mumbo-jumbo, I believe a person’s self worth and image can be very tied to the fulfillment of their wishes. Ergo, by crafting a wish list and keeping it current for the past 40+ years, I have generated a rat’s nest of emotional tangles and unfilled expectations.
I blame my parents for putting me into this situation. I also love them unconditionally and am busy spending my inheritance on therapy. But enough about me, let’s talk about gifts.
On the wish-list post I update annually, the items range from high-tech devices and ultra-expensive tools and toys (I believe I’ve put $8000 computers and $5500 cameras on that list…no, never received them from anyone…#smh). I also look for items to soothe my soul.
You’re familiar with gifts that touch you the right way. NO, NOT THOSE GIFTS. I’m talking about slippers or socks or a blanket. As Liverpool Supporters, some of the most comforting gifts I’ve gotten recently are scarves. They’re colorful, useful, collectable and relatively inexpensive.
In fact, in a few years when I cash out all my American Scouser stock options, I’m gonna buy 100+ LFC scarves from my Boston club and then travel the country swapping scarves at every LFC pub in the United States.
Let’s not get distracted…the real purpose of this column is to talk about what comfort we get from the gifts of another season.
The Festive Fixtures are wrapped up; Sadio Mane bested Egypt for the AFCON title; the FA Cup is probably going to end up a Liverpool/Nottingham Forest final; and for the love of all things holy, knock on wood, twist your voodoo dolls, etc., it seeeeeems as if the pandemic is starting to wane.*
*I’m not a doctor or a politician, your mileage may vary.
Ultimately, since we’re talking about comfort, here’s a short list – seven things that continue to bring me comfort and joy this year. I’d love to see your list in the comments!
7 – I don’t know what the ball complaints are all about. When the ref picks up the ball from its perch at pitch side, I grin widely because that ball, no matter the color or design, means that the sides are about to play and I’m about to lose myself in 105+ minutes of football bliss. Yes, changing ball design is an odd and very transparent commercial move, but the EPL has the right to make money last I checked.
6 – I spoke about scarves above and I wanted to put them high on the list. Mostly because 2021 and early 2022 were instrumental and memorable for me. This time period marks when I was able to fully understand how to tie and wear a scarf. If you don’t know, I can’t help you because I just learned.
But it’s important that it be adorned around your neck in a non-slipknot so you can’t be strangled by a passing thug in a Citroen who grabs your scarf. AND it also has to keep any chilly breezes from hitting your neck and lower skull parts.
Learn how to tie a scarf and you will want for nothing. Well, nothing in the arena of scarf style and function.
5 – American sizing. This isn’t specifically an EPL or Liverpool characteristic yet it’s made my life so much easier. I used to lose my mind when the new kit came out – order it while the decals are still warm – and then get an ATHLETIC-FIT garment that makes me look like a Weisswurst.
Now I go up at least one size if it’s genuine kit. And sometimes I even go up half to a full size in practice gear and T-shirts. Even sweatshirts aren’t baggy like they used to be, so if you want room, order bigger. It’s your comfort!
4 – Food. It provides comfort and sustenance, a combo you can’t beat. Breakfast is my favorite meal, so EPL matches help peripherally with my food comfort by always playing during brunch. Nothing’s better than a variety of meats and beans and eggs and bread, all washed down by a crisp and refreshing Carlsberg. #notsponsored
While I was familiar with a true Irish or English breakfast (and have had both in their respective countries #humblebrag), it’s great that pubs across the United States serve up some semblance of a Euro breakfast during weekend matches.
3 – Long underwear. I’d like to say I wear it when the temperatures dip into single digits and I have to stand outside the pub waiting or them to open. Alas, I can’t say that. I can and do say that I put on long underwear when the temperature is 43 degrees or lower. Maybe I’m old. Maybe I spent too much time in Florida and my blood thinned out. Maybe I need to do more physical labor.
Whatever the reason, I don’t have an efficient body heater in the winter and therefore need to accessorize with long underwear. I am not ashamed to say it is comfortable and functional and brings me joy. The extra layer keeps the chill away. The extra padding helps when I’m bouncing up and down during a match shouting at the VAR.
2 – Community, community, community. We’re entering our third year of a pandemic. In isolating ourselves, we were denying everyone of community comfort. Now that things are getting a bit better, some faces are being seen again. Folks are comfortable in stadia around England; mandates are not being renewed; and fewer players and matches are being affected by the virus.
As this happens, I’m taking more time to appreciate the people at the pub. My friends. My fellow fans. My Liverpool supporters. I value the songs and the laughter, even the shouts and groans. I find comfort in them all and don’t plan to take any of this for granted again.
1 – And the main comfort I have as we enter the home stretch of the 21-22 EPL season is the schedule ahead. The smiles, the cheers, the celebrations are on their way. The kicks, the passes, the headers and the saves will make match days a happy time regardless of result. Let’s comfort ourselves with the joy of a bunch more matches and endless possibilities.