I’ve learned a lot about myself during this holiday season, which has presented me with multiple opportunities for personal growth. I’ve learned that I think carolers are charming in the movies, but annoying as hell when they show up at your door. I mean, what are you supposed to do, stand on your porch and watch these strangers sing? For the duration of the whole song? It’s awkward. I’ve learned that when you go shopping for Christmas decorations after having a few cocktails, you’re more likely to buy a nine-foot tall inflatable penguin. Also, I’ve learned that nine-foot tall inflatable penguins are awesome. I’ve learned that I’m a competitive person, and if I don’t have an outlet for that competitiveness because of a broken arm, I’ll turn decorating the front yard into a sport. I mean it’s a friendly competition, but I’m definitely out to crush and humiliate my neighbors with their paltry attempts at holiday cheer. For the past two weeks, I’ve sent my kids out on “scouting missions” to see what the neighbors are crafting in their yards. If the Johnsons line their sidewalk with candy canes, I put up a candy cane forest. If the Gragtmans have an inflatable Minion, I buy an inflatable penguin. Because inflatable penguins are classy. It’s nothing personal. I’m just better at the Suburban Games.

This Christmas, I’ve also learned that my wife doesn’t share my affinity for giant penguins and competitive illumination. It’s caused some tension. Fortunately, she does share my love for Asheville Brewing Company’s Ninjabread Man. I ordered one for myself in a bar a few weeks ago, and she drank all of it herself. Then she went to the store and bought an alarming number Ninjabread Bombers. So, if you’re in the Asheville area, and you can’t find a bottle of this gingerbread beer, it’s because they’re all sitting in my garage.

And I can’t fault her enthusiasm. It is a great beer. A little bit sweet and spicy, malty as hell, but not in an annoying way. This isn’t the Christmas beer sugar bomb that tastes good for the first sip but then grows tiresome as you move through the bottle. You can drink several Ninjabread Mans and still want more. Which explains my wife’s inclination to hoard this seasonal brew. Also, I’ve found it’s useful to have a healthy supply on hand. You can give them to carolers so they’ll get the hell off your porch. And crack one open after you’ve been declared the King of the Suburban Games. Merry Christmas. Cheers to personal growth.