Turkeys and Pigskin

Every year around this time, I get excited. The last Thursday of every November brings something that fills me with joy. And it’s not Mom’s homemade gravy.

It’s Thanksgiving football.

For my family, Thanksgiving is the biggest get-together of the year. Relatives pour in from all over to celebrate and give thanks for all we have. And to watch some Turkey Day football.

The same scenario plays out every year. A big mid-morning breakfast is devoured that pretty much wipes out the morning game. No biggie, I wasn’t worried about that anyhow.

The real fun starts around noon, when the next game is getting under way. Most of my relatives have arrived at this point and have begun swapping stories and grubbing up. Did I mention that we usually have appetizers that rival regular meals on a normal day?

Excitement builds for halftime. In my younger days, I was the one who pushed for a big pick-up game at the half. Now, that duty falls to my little brother, who fits the role quite well.

“Nick! Uncle Guurg! Uncle Carl! Dad! Lets play some fooootbbbbballll!.” My brother’s classic scream rings through the house.

Now, keep in mind that three-fourths of those names listed above are on the wrong side of 40. So things don’t usually equate to a heated halftime battle. But all the fellas usually come out and even Dad takes a break from cooking the bird to toss around the pigskin.

As the day grows old and the delectable smell of fresh bread fill the house, the final game of the day gets under way. This is where the stakes are highest.

Not that any of us care about the teams playing. We usually don’t. We do care, however, about the pool we have on the game and which family member will win big each quarter.

My dear great-grandmother, the centerpiece of our wacky family, fondly recalls her big win in the Thanksgiving Pool of ‘08.

“I never get lucky, but that day I did,” she proudly said.

Well put, Nanny.

As the fourth quarter winds down and dessert is spread around, family starts to depart and heads back to their respective homes. But not without a belly full of bird, sore throwing arms and warm memories shared with those they love.

So when the mashed potatoes and apple pie are broken out this year, I will be embracing my time with my family and enjoying a much-needed break. Of course, a little fall football won’t hurt either.

Nick Woodard can be reached at [email protected]