There’s a scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase’s neighbor walks outside to see Randy Quaid emptying a chemical toilet into the sewer.
“Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!”
That’s the inevitability of the holiday season. It’s a time for giving, for friends, and for family, but there’s usually that one relative who just winds up being a pain in the ass. They’re the one you casually dodge while settling down to watch the NBA games instead.
Christmas came early this year for the Philadelphia sports fan, with the Sixers and Eagles both playing on Jesus Christ’s 2,022nd birthday. The Sixers get the Knicks inside Madison Square Garden at noon, while the Birds host the Raiders at the Linc at 8:30 pm.
That’s great for TV purposes, but if you want to physically be at both games it means putting on a balancing act that would make Nik Wallenda blush.
Here’s how you squeeze your kids, your family, and your teams into 36 hours, hopefully without pissing anybody off. We’re going under the assumption that your family celebrates Christmas. If you don’t, this will be a lot easier.
I am 10000% going to the Sixers and Eagles games on Christmas, Amtrak up to MSG in the morning, back down to tailgate birds by 5. pic.twitter.com/Z155zy7W3Z
— Podster (@DaVinciPode) August 10, 2017
1. Go to church the night before
A lot of local Catholics only go to church on major holidays, and one of the oldest tricks in the book is to “get it out of the way” by attending Christmas Eve Mass. Your kids will probably be a little antsy in the pew, but it’s a holiday Catch-22—they’re either waiting for presents or wanting to play with the gifts they just opened.
It is what it is.
You might as well just do it on December 24th, and you can shave a few minutes by sneaking out the back door after Holy Communion.
2. 7:30 am to 9:30 am – open presents
Everyone is going to be anxious to see what’s under the tree, so you can leverage that by starting your day early.
Do it at your house. Gather immediate family, enjoy breakfast, and keep it small. I’m talking you, your wife, your kids, grandma, grandpa, and maybe a brother or sister. Families are smaller these days, so that’s a positive in this situation.
If you’ve got three brothers and two sisters, you’re probably screwed.
3. 9:30 am to 11:30 am – New Jersey Turnpike (cost: ~$25.25 + gas)
Enjoy the bucolic ride up America’s favorite road.
The toll is going to cost you seven to ten bucks from exit 4 to 14, then you’re looking at $10 to $15 for the Holland Tunnel, both of which vary based on whether you use E-ZPass.
You’re basically saving money by using E-Zpass, so if you don’t have it in 2017, just get it. You’ll thank me when you fly through the May’s Landing toll booth on your way to the shore.
4. 11:30 am to 12 pm – parking (cost: ~$40)
Not an enjoyable experience in Philly or New York.
According to iconparkingsystems.com, these would be the going rates in and around MSG on Christmas Day:
That’s really not bad. I don’t know how quickly these lots fill up, and parking in Manhattan is usually a nightmare, but I’d imagine that the borough slows down just a bit on Christmas day.
I still think you save money by driving this trip instead of taking the train, which puts you on someone else’s timeline and costs around $80 minimum for a round-trip ticket. I don’t know if that $20 bus still runs from Chinatown, but that might actually be your cheapest option here.
You can knock off the parking prices if you take mass transit, but it ends up being a wash in the end.
4. 12 pm to 2:30 pm – Sixers clobber the Knicks (cost: $200-$300)
Joel Embiid goes for 27 and 10, Markelle Fultz adds a triple-double, and Phil Jackson falls asleep on his couch while watching from home.
Tickets are listed in the $200 to $300 range right now, so this will probably be the most expensive part of the trip.
5. 2:30 pm to 3 pm – get back to your car (cost: a lot of walking)
Getting out of New York is as much of pain in the ass as getting in, so we’ll allocate a half-hour for this.
You’re going to have to wait for the arena to filter out, walk however many blocks back to your car, then get back to the tunnel.
But before you leave, be sure to remind Knicks fans that they’ve won just one playoff series over the last 17 seasons.
6. 3 pm to 5 pm – New Jersey Turnpike (cost: $15.25)
At least you’re not paying the tunnel toll in this direction. You’ll have to spend the $5 crossing back into Philly, and whatever else it costs to buy some old chicken from the Roy Rogers at the Joyce Kilmer service area.
7. 5 pm to 5:30 pm – attempt to park at the Linc (cost: $40, unless you’re driving a tank)
You will get cut off by some guy from Mayfair driving a Ford F-250 Super Duty.
He will be wearing a David Akers jersey and white new balance sneakers, and probably have a Phillies calf tattoo.
8. 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm – tailgate (cost: whatever you want it to be)
Here’s the going rate for a couple of must-have items:
Case of Bud Light – $23.99
A couple of Primo hoagies, bo – $16
Bruce Springsteen remastered “Thunder Road” CD – $9.99
Cornhole boards – $50 to $150
Wilson NFL football from Modell’s Sporting Goods – $9.99
Eagles Santa Claus hat – $40
Hot tub – somewhere around $3,000
9. 8:30 pm to 11:45 pm – Eagles (cost: $125)
Let’s hope that Nelson Agholor is still the Eagles’ slot receiver by the time this game rolls around.
That said, I’ve got Birds 31, Raiders 24. Derek Barnett sacks Derek Carr five times, Ronald Darby gets a pick-six, and Marshawn Lynch only shows up to the post-game press conference so he won’t get fined.
10. 12:15 am – home (cost: none)
No sleeping issues after this day.
11. 10 am the next morning – do whatever for your wife (cost: nothing)
Spend Tuesday making it up to your wife and family. Play with the kids or do the dishes or something.
All told, you can probably make this happen for somewhere in the 600 to 800 dollar range, which seems like a lot, but whatever man, because you can’t put a price on the Eagles and Sixers winning some damn ball games.