To some, Thanksgiving is reminiscent of a table creaking in the shape of a can under the weight of a feast, turkey and stuffing, sauce and cranberry sauce. Others are excited to become one with the couch, watch the parade, dog show, and Detroit Lions with the season’s first glass of eggnog nearby.
For more than 40 years, my family has gathered year after year for an annual Turkey Bowl game where generations challenge generations. And every single game, every single year, I start the celebrations with the same game: everyone goes long.
It’s a ploy I picked up from Jerry Glanville, the crusty old Falcons trainer, who performed that exact maneuver to open the Georgia Dome in 1992. Send everyone low, throw the ball high, put the defense off the jump on your heels. Sometimes it works; The receiver stands behind their defender and it’s an easy touchdown. Sometimes it fails spectacularly; A shrewd cornerback, knowing what’s coming, lurks, waiting for the duck-like pass to return to Earth and block interception.
There’s something perfect, pure, and circular in these Thanksgiving games for us and hopefully for you too. We started this game as teenagers, stumbling around the apartments, waiting for a generous adult to throw us the ball.
We grew up into teenagers, all elbows and knees faster than our parents, convinced we could call a better game than our fathers, and laughed at their dated references to Joe Theismann and Ken Stabler.
We are in our twenties and have welcomed significant others into the group to explain the intricacies of fly patterns and family history, like why this uncle and nephew had a rivalry that went back a decade.
Soon our own little kids joined the fight, not quite sure why Daddy and Mommy were walking around and screaming, but loved it anyway.
Our parents, the ones who taught us the game, the ones who designed games on our t-shirts and taught us chase angles and sharp cuts, are now stepping on the sidelines and leaving the game to us and the next generation.
And now this next generation is growing up, running away from us and designing us too, mocking our conversation about Troy Aikman and Brett Favre as they toss it out of the gun like Patrick Mahomes.
These games have been a constant as my family grew from three to nearly two dozen. Births, passages, marriages, divorces . . . We have dealt widely and experienced the world in very different ways, but we always find our way back to the football field on the fourth Thursday in November.
It wasn’t always pure joy. There’s always a stretch – usually when a large chunk of the roster is made up of teenagers – when someone hurts their feelings or when someone takes the two-handed touch to extremes. Tears have flowed, tempers have flamed, swear words have flowed.
And yet we come back every year. We also sit down at the same table a few hours later. The turkey has a way of alleviating hurt egos and healing rifts between siblings, cousins, and friends. One deep breath, the realization that this is just a game and we are all family, and everything will turn back right.
Of course we don’t have a Turkey Bowl this year. You might see 2020 differently, but we’ve decided that skipping a year is the preferred option. I’ll take my kids to the yard, put on their t-shirts and tell them which routes to run. It won’t be the same – two instruments can’t recreate a symphony no matter how hard they try – but it’ll make tradition flicker until we can bring it back to life in 2021.
I’ve already thought about the Turkey Bowl next year. Again, I’m going to throw that first pass up and, man, I’ll be happy no matter who can handle it.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May all of your passports be perfect spirals . . . and may always remind the generations above and below who the real boss is.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay. busbee @ gmail. com.
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American Football, Thanksgiving, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons
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– Thank you for soccer, family and long bombs
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