Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Football

No, these aren’t Kennedys and this isn’t Hyannis Port. Just myself and my older brother and three of my nephews tossing around the football in the backyard of the house where I grew up on Thanksgiving day, a scene that occurs on the Last Thursday of November in yards, streets, parks, across America. You’re not playing football, you’re playing argue ball, Dad would sometimes shout. We used to play football a lot in the backyard, not 11 per side that’s for sure, but my brothers and other boys from the neighborhood. A bunch of us. The yard seemed so immense back then, when I was young and small, unbelievable that we could actually pretend it was an entire field. The old man was right. We didn’t have a referee. Quibbles and bickering erupted constantly. I’m not off-sides, you’re off-sides! Touch football, sometimes tackle. Dad was making the point, shut up and play. Shut up and have fun! Watching football on TV bores me to tears, but of course it was on the set for much of the afternoon. Avoiding football on Thanksgiving simply takes too much effort and is vaguely un-American, but what can be better than tossing around the football, blood on blood. My brother and I had memories of the backyard games. My older nephews mentioned nostalgia for their now long ago High School football teams, actual helmets and shoulder pads and school spirit, genuine and sincere. The youngest nephew is 12 and says that next year he wants to go out for football. Memories of football from different decades, hopeful premonitions of football yet to come. The football spirals… comforting chill.

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