Family, food and football. For me, these are things that are synonymous with Thanksgiving. I try to be mindful of the many blessings in my life on a daily basis, but on Thanksgiving Day, I am reminded of why I'm thankful for the game.
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My father was the person responsible for my initial education of football. It happened when I was around 11-years-old and was sick one Sunday during autumn. I was resting on the couch and, of course, Dad had football on the TV all day, much to my annoyance. But since I was a captive audience, I began asking him questions about the game. He very patiently answered them and my interest grew. We started watching games together after that. Dad even taught me how to throw a football with a perfect spiral.
A father/daughter relationship during her teenage years is tenuous. During these difficult times, the one thing we could always talk about was football. He took me to Mile High Stadium numerous times, and we enjoyed watching John Elway's patented come-from-behind victories. Every game I attended, Denver won. Spending time with my Dad back then remains some of my fondest memories.
As I matured and my understanding of the game progressed, I found that football was an avenue to initiate conversations with men. I never tire of the looks of surprise on their faces when I start talking about the game. It doesn't take long to win them over, to earn their respect, and enjoy a camaraderie with them.
Football has helped me forge many friendships. By playing fantasy football with co-workers or joining sports debate groups on Facebook, I've enjoyed being one of the guys, so to speak. In dating scenarios, I've dropped my football knowledge to impress men. Works like a charm, too.
Football has strengthened my relationship with my 20-year-old son as well. When he sees that I'm watching a game, he will stop what he's doing and watch with me for a bit. If his phone rings, he will always tell the caller, "I'm watching football with my mom, I'll call you later." I can hear the pride in his voice. He sometimes seeks my advice regarding start/sit options for his fantasy team. It's a special way to interact with him, since I highly doubt most mothers give out fantasy football advice.
Football has even made my professional life more enjoyable. We are allowed to wear NFL apparel on Sundays. Wearing my favorite black No. 80 Jimmy Graham jersey amid all Bronco orange ones always garners plenty of attention. I enthusiastically talk about my team and make fast friends with customers that I wait on. I have been consulted to set a fantasy football lineup for a manager at my job, who just so happened to win that week. One of my favorite moments at work came when having a conversation with two members of management. The first said, "I really like talking to Sandra. She knows football." To which the second manager responded, "I don't like talking to her about football because she knows more than me." I giggled, but both comments made me feel proud.
The sport is always showcased on Thanksgiving. My family will enjoy dinner together but the television will not be on then. We will talk and catch up on life. Afterwards, though, it will be on all day. We may watch together for a bit, then throw darts or something of that nature, before finally playing a pick-up game outside. Needless to say, we will enjoy each other's company immensely.
I'm so very grateful for what the game has brought to my life. It has brought friendships and fun galore. I enjoy talking about it, writing about it, and heck, I've even had dreams about it.
Football has always been there for me, even through the toughest of times. This Thanksgiving, it's at the top of the list of things I'm thankful for.