Monday, November 23, 2009

Lotsa Thanks to Give

Usually I dread Thanksgiving. The devotion of an entire day to stuffing yourself silly then sitting in front of mind-numbing television until you pass out. Elements that make the guys in our family LOVE Thanksgiving. The cleaning and cooking don't rank high on my list either, especially when you don't have the proper time to do either really well. High expectations of the best Thanksgiving ever fall flat when you're exhausted and a bit resentful of the whole ordeal.

Well, that has been the story the last dozen years, at any rate, because Thanksgiving was sandwiched in between the Night before Turkey and Black Friday. In my previous decade as a district manager of Santa Claus photo sets, Thanksgiving was the calm before the storm, and there was never enough time to enjoy it, let alone be thankful. People get crazy when they are stressed out during the holidays, and often Santa and the elves bore the brunt of it. I'd arrive at Thanksgiving dinner frazzled, not wanting to talk with anyone, and certainly not take their picture, and beelined it to the libation station to soothe my nerves.

I also felt guilty because Thanksgiving falls so close to my daughter's birthday and we could never celebrate it properly. Always on a different day, with something slapped together at the last moment because I usually had to work on her birthday. One year she invited her friends to the mall with our intention to see Santa, eat lunch and shop. I ended up having to work and she went without me. That stunk. Although I loved my Santa gig, I changed jobs in May 2008 and now have Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the whole whopping weekend off. I don't know what to do with myself. I'm offering thanks for the time with my family.

The second thing I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is this incredible run in football. We are going to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to play the for the state title the day after Thanksgiving! While I'm writing this, I'm listening to a replay of last Friday night's Semi-State game. We drove over two hours to play a very good team who made it to the semi-state last year. Butterflies don't describe the feeling I had in my stomach. More like bats outta hell.

What a game - dry for once, thank God - a beautiful evening with a crescent moon that kept changing colors as it rose over the "H" shaped goalpost. We were wedged in small, rickety bleachers, like ours, amongst our dearest football buddies cheering on our sons. We were dressed in blue and white with a bit of bling. Every game we moms have a new fashion twist. Satisfies our feminine side. The boys delivered to our highest expectations. They were ready for battle and played their best. In many ways, I relate this whole football business to being in a tight military unit. We've had ACL/MCL tears, blood clots, dislocated shoulders, distended elbows, concussions, back injuries, plus your standard bumps and bruises. Yet, they patch up and soldier on. If he's too battered, they send in reinforcements who go at it with just as much intensity. This is not a spectator sport for these guys - it's life or death, to get the mission accomplished. They won 47-13. They are true brothers on and off the field.

Besides getting this far in football, I'm thankful for all of the little perks that have come with this season. I've bonded with fellow football moms and dads - spending Wednesday nights at film and tailgating with them before Friday night games since August. What a wonderful circle of friends that I hope can last after the last ball is thrown and caught. We fellow parents love our kids, and are so excited to see them realize a dream come true. I'm also thankful for my co-workers who have listened to me prattle on about this team. Many of them have elementary school children and are light years away to knowing what it's like to be the parent of a senior - the last hurrah. They think childhood is endless, as I did back then. God bless them.

But most of all, I'm thankful for God. He is my center. His mother, Our Lady, is my guide and mentor. His saints, especially St. Anthony, are my examples on how to live. St. Anthony is also my "main man," as he helps me find everything I lose, which is substantial. With so many things to be grateful for, I'll try to overlook the excessive food and television this Thanksgiving. If you can't beat them, join them!

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