It’s that time of year, the most wonderful time. Kid’s jingle belling and everyone telling you to be of good cheer. But is it REALLY the most wonderful time of the year? With over 20 major events globally between November and February, let’s be honest – we are OVERLOAD(ed).
There are plenty of resources online offering survival advice just for the holidays alone. Yoga to help re-center your chi after dinner with your inappropriate grandpa or how not drinking alcohol will actually improve your ability to keep your mouth shut when politics enter the chat. Twelve eye creams that will help you look less hungover and 15 easy takeout items you can put in your own crockpot and tell everyone you made yourself… I’m talking about you, Wendy’s chili! But does it have to be that way? Have we really doomed ourselves to more than six weeks of continual, compounded stress every year?
We know that holiday stress is a thing; there are countless movies about it. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, a Christmas Story, to name a few. They are all classics, and they are classic because we can relate with the annoying in-laws or being so stressed out that you forget so many things… well, maybe not your kid. But there is a fine line between wanting to celebrate tradition and wanting to crawl into a hole in the ground until February just to get by. The good news is we’ve got your line and a few ideas on how we’d pack up to GTFO and have a good time, even if it’s for a couple of hours.
Escape to a ‘No Name’ hot spring.
OK, we realize that not everyone has a hot spring within 100 miles, but whether it’s a hot spring or your buddy’s outdoor hot tub at a mountain cabin, it’s a great way to escape the holiday madness. We recommend grabbing a good friend or two and loading up a pack with some tasty beers or your favorite holiday cocktail – we like the White Russian, inspired by a Montana legend, “The Dude.” Add some firewood, a bathing suit (or not), a towel, and head into the woods to track back to a hidden, hot pot. It is said that the wildest places are often more enjoyable with friends and a good fire, and like “The Dude,” we abide.
Backcountry cast iron cook-offs.
Food always seems to taste better in the backcountry and cooked over an open flame. Holiday food is no exception. Our second recommendation is packing up your most seasoned cast iron, a wooden spoon, long tongs, and a stack of wood and GTFO to your favorite outdoor location for a feast over the fire. You can stuff that pack to the max with pumpkins, herbs, cheese, potatoes, and nestle a leg of lamb in the overload, and if your adventurous, forage the rest. And did we mention bourbon? Oh yeah, bring the bourbon. It’s great for cooking and to keep your insides warm.
A Forest Service cabin deep in the mountain woods.
Some holiday seasons require a full-on GTFO. No cell service. No WiFi. The only people there are the people you choose to spend the holidays with. This brings us to our third recommendation, and the most remote of the bunch is to ski into a forest service cabin. Fill that pack with your own holiday cheer like fixings for hot toddies, cribbage, and some David Byrne tunes. Nothing better than letting go of the stress of the holiday and standing knee-deep in fresh snow as the silence of miles surrounds you, and you know “This Must Be the Place.”
We know that not everyone’s holiday will look the same. Not everyone can totally GTFO. So, maybe it’s as simple as grabbing your loved ones, packing a thermos full of hot chocolate, a flask full of booze, that ubiquitous tin can full of cookies, throwing a sled into the OVERLOAD shelf, and hitting the neighborhood hills. Who knows, you and yours might be in Hawaii! Either way, whether it’s a boogie board or a sled, it is excellent to just GTFO for an hour or two.
Even though it’s nice to lean back and dream of what could be, the reality is, many of us will find ourselves face-to-face with holiday stress. Family dinners, airport security and being alone when the clock strikes midnight. Just remember that whatever your holiday GTFO dreams look like, maybe it’s time to consider that they don’t have to be dreams forever. No matter what this season holds for you, whether into the woods or to your grandmother’s, you go; remember that sometimes packing up and getting outside can be an absolute sanity saver. From the MYSTERY RANCH team to you, cheers to the adventures yet to come. May all your Christmas miracles be right over the next ridgeline and just out of cell range.