This is my favorite time of year.

No, I'm not really a fan of Christmas or getting extremely drunk on New Years Eve with overpriced drinks and crowded bars.

It is because I'm coming back to the motherland..Buffalo, NY.

This time of year always holds special meaning for me. Buffalo is the only place I really go on vacation for. Last time I went somewhere that wasn't work related was to Las Vegas in 2005. I know, you might think it is kind of weird and boring.

However, the way I view it, if I'm going to go on vacation, I'd rather be around people I like (Family/friends). Food is food. Hotels are hotels. Sight seeing is sight seeing, but who you are with is what matters for the perfect getaway for me. It's a time I can recharge my battery after living in the city doesn't sleep or shut up.

Sadly, over the years, lack of work has kind of ruined my spirit the days and weeks prior to taking the train back to Buffalo. I wrote it perfectly last year about coming home after having a rough couple of months prior:

"I'm going through a lot of doubts about life in NYC. Let's just say I'm going through a deep thought process about what I wanna do next in my life. The 500 mile road I've been traveling hasn't lead to a dead end yet, but the trees and houses seem to look the same. When you aren't sure anymore, you start losing ambition. The flame or fire is still there, but it is burning at both ends of the candle and you are left wondering if the person you thought you knew, is going to exist when it eventually disintegrates."

Deep, right?

It pretty much all boiled down to not finding a job. I just need to work. Not only because it puts food and drinks in my belly, but because it makes me feel I'm moving forward. I think people who have been unemployed know the feeling. 

Now, this shouldn't exactly be shocking for me. Between November and January, TV freelance gigs are incredibly hard to find because the budgets for shows are dried up from the calendar year. In my 10 years of going home, I've never had a job coming out of Christmas season. 

I should be use to this by now, but it would still always haunt me. It would mess with me brain. I'd think I was a loser who couldn't find gainful employment, even though everyone in the field knows this happens all the time. I'd always hate to countdown my vacation days in Buffalo. It was always having an impending feeling of doom because I was a day or two away from returning to NYC without a job. I'd look at the calendar or clock and just count it down like I was leaving Disney World, hoping to get every ounce of fun out of what time remained it.

But gray skies have cleared up.

For once, I actually have a gig when I return to NYC (High five!).

The gig is going until at least May, which is incredibly long for a freelance job. At least by my standards it is. All-in-all, it has been a pretty decent year for me in terms of work. So, I'm in a fantastic mood for a change. So, instead of Buffalo lifting my spirits after so many years of coming home disappointed, I'm going lift your damn spirits. I'm about to make it fricken rain at the bars and pizza places like Eddie Murphy throwing a party in Trading Places.

When you are in a good mood, everything is better. The Labatt Blue should taste better. The Burgers at The Wellington Pub should be juicer. The girls should look hotter after three beers instead of six. The Bills games are still meaningless, but for 10 bucks and to tailgate with friends, sign me up! The coldness has a warmness to it. Everything is great and I know I'm going to have an extra step in my stride.

The Sabres game is going to be more awesome than….

Oh, right.

The lockout…the shitty lockout.

So, no going to the games with my little cousin like we've been doing for Christmases since 2002. Oh, correction: since 2002..minus the 2004 lockout. There's not going to be a different/louder buzz in the building because all the recently arrived transplants have gobbled up tickets to watch. Trust me, I went to a Panthers/Sabres game three years ago around Christmas and the building erupted when the Sabres tied it up in the 2nd period.

You don't have the same appreciation for the Sabres or the Bills until you move away. You go home and watch them play and it means so much more than watching them in NYC on an illegal feed or at a sports bar. And if I'm not at the F'N center, it would have been great to venture to a sports bar to watch the game with tons of Sabres fans and friends. When the dust, money and hangovers have cleared, the hockey games are probably my favorite part about my getaway.

This is the time of year hockey season really starts for me. The weather is colder, the hockey games start meaning something, the Bills are out of playoff contention (Again), and more importantly, I'm usually home.

Not this year.

I haven't been one to go pissing and moaning about the lockout. Hey, by all means, yell until your hearts content. I totally get that. But as I've insisted since the beginning, I could live without the season in October and November.

Now we are getting into my Christmas/Vacation season.

This is not good.

For all the reasons I listed, this was going to be the perfect Holiday for change. Instead, I'm going to have to talk about how stupid it is that we aren't watching hockey when I'm home. It just doesn't feel right.  How Ironic, I'm happy because I'm working, yet, the NHL is in the same predicament I was in for the last 10 years at this time of year.

Well, I don't have to be a union leader to tell you what the difference is now, do I?