Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Passes

This Thanksgiving is going to be a tricky one for me. In fact deciding on the menu may be easier than writing this post.

Pass the Tofurky
You see, earlier this year I became a vegan which makes me anti-turkey. Let me rephrase that.
Because I choose not to eat them, I am actually pro-turkey. This year I will be eating Tofurky. I know! It sounds like an expletive. Like something, you might blurt out as a kid and end up with a mouthful of soap. Due to a childhood tendency toward colorful language, I have tasted soap, but I have yet to try Tofurky, so for all I know Dove is more delectable.

My next thought was to write a poem, but I quickly abandoned that idea. For one thing, I couldn't find a word to rhyme with Tofurky. (Beef-jerky?) So, with turkeys and poems off the table, I still had a problem. How was I going to write about Thanksgiving with the proverbial turkey in the room?

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
I was stumped until it hit me. I had completely forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about. This holiday is not just about stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams and mountains of mashed potatoes. It’s not just about eating your way into your fat pants. When I look back on dozens of family Thanksgivings, it’s obvious. 

This is one of our great American holidays when harried women spends days in the kitchen, cooking for and cleaning up after men who will gather in the den, with a hand is shoved down their pants, as they yell at the TV. 

Yep. You guessed it. Thanksgiving is about football!

Family Dinners
When I was a kid football hijacked countless holidays and Sundays. Thanksgiving always began and ended with football. Once, when I was a teenager, Mom had the audacity to serve dinner during a very important game. We ate in the dining room while the TV blared in the den so Dad and my brothers could be alerted to any crucial plays. Dad spent dinner jumping up from the table and running into the den. On one of his sprints, he choked on a piece of turkey, slowed down only long enough for me to smack him on the back and continue his dinner-game-dash. When I told Mom what happened, I swear she mumbled something about wishing she had hit him.

As you may have guessed, I was not a fan. I was Team-Mom and as her Sous Chef I knew first hand the hours and hard work that went into preparing a dinner that took only minutes for the men in my family to inhale.

Football Tidbits
I still don't speak sports, but not all the women in my family feel the way I do about the game. My sisters and cousins are huge Steelers fans. When they watch the games they seem to know what’s going on because they cheer and groan in unison with the men. So, in an attempt to adopt an if you can’t beat ‘em, attitude, I have tried to watch and learn, but most of the time, I am lost. I have picked up a few tidbits over the years, yet the more I learn, the less I understand.

From what I can gather, there are about fifty guys on each team who are given only one ball to play with. But why they call this thing a "ball" baffles me because it doesn't roll or even bounce all that well. I've seen players run all the way to the end of the field, only to hurl the ball onto the ground. They call this spiking. This results in one awkward bounce in which the ball veers off wildly in an unpredictable direction, making it impossible for them to catch it. In fact, they don’t even try. Yet they seem especially proud of themselves when they do this. Inevitably their teammates run up, hug them and give them congratulatory smacks on their behinds. Football players seem happiest when they are spiking and spanking.

Now you would think, since they are used to playing with only one ball, they would be good at sharing it. But if you have ever seen a game, you’d know that this is not their strong suit. I can only imagine how embarrassed their poor mothers must feel as they watch their sons play on TV. They just fight over that single ball until someone blows a whistle. It's the job of whistle-blower, to make sure everyone gets a turn at playing with the ball.  

One team is the defense and the other is offense. But I think they have the names backwards, because the defending team is the one doing all the rude stuff like trying to steal the ball when it’s not even their turn. 

I'm not sure how they decide which team defends and which offends. For all I know, the big decisions are made in the locker room during a heated rocks-paper-scissor match between the two team-leaders, also known as the coaches. I relate to these guys. They seem to enjoy the game even less than I do as they stand on the sidelines, waving their arms and yelling.     

The game begins after a judge throws a quarter in the air, determining who gets to go first. One player kicks the ball while everyone stands around and watches and that's as friendly as it ever gets. After that it's a free-for-all.

Beasts and Prey
When a guy called the quarterback throws the ball, it's called a pass. Anyone who is unlucky enough to catch the ball gets jumped by the other team's biggest men. The quarterback is usually in a hurry to get rid of the ball and I can't blame him. But get this; even though it's the kiss of death, he always passes it to one of his teammates. When the wide-retriever catches the ball, he immediately becomes prey to a pack of 250 lb helmeted, padded, wild-eyed beasts. He runs like hell until someone knocks him down. This is a called a tackle. When the prey is tackled by one beast all of the other beasts pile on top of him until one of the whistler-blowers blows. Sometimes they wave a flag, but that doesn't seem to be very effective.

Even though I grew up in Pittsburgh, Steelers fans confuse me the most. They seem especially prone to bumper stickers, hats, and other memorabilia. I actually heard that a giant toy duck stopped traffic in Pittsburgh this year. 

One year for Christmas, my brother gave out Steeler's gifts. My present was a little gold hand towel with the black letters on it. Before I got a chance to read it, my brother proudly explained to me that this was a Terrible Towel. Since it didn't match any of the colors in my bathroom, I had to agree. But I thanked him and made sure it was hanging on my towel rack the next time he came over. I was really confused when he came out of the bathroom holding the towel. "It's not for the bathroom," he explained. "It's for your car!. 

Okay, I felt a little stupid, until I finally caught on. But when he stopped over a few months later, my brother was horrified to see me waxing my car with it. "No! You wave it out of your window when the Steelers score." 

Come on! If I'm in my car, how will I know when the Steelers get a home-run? 

This year, I will be going to my sister's annual Thanksgiving party where there will be food, family, friends, and football aplenty. And as you've probably already guessed, no matter how many games are televised, the only passes I'll be interested in will be the ones requested at the dinner table.

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to give a shout out to the football fans and especially the Steelers fans. I know many of you will be watching the Thanksgiving game because there is a chance the Steelers could be in the semifinals. And though I can't call myself a fan, Pittsburgh is my hometown and even get how exciting it is when the Steelers play in The Super Game!

So, Happy Thanksgiving and go Steelers!