Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving football when it was real and simple

Whoever came up with the idea to put turkey and pigskin together?

And whatever happened to Thanksgiving and football has we know it?

I flew back to Maine this Thanksgiving to spend Turkey Day with my childhood family for the first time in more than 25 years and remembered how it used to be. When I was growing up, there was only one game on TV on Thanksgiving and that was so long ago that the Detroit Lions were actually good. Thanksgiving Day began with Captain Kangeroo’s Thanksgiving Day parades when they would broadcast parades in Toronto, Detroit and Honolulu in addition to the Macy’s parade in New York. And to this day I could never figure out how Santa Claus was in four parades at once.

Then, once the Captain, Mr. Green Jeans, Moose and Bunny Rabbit bid us adieu, the Lions would kickoff at noon in old Tiger Stadium, which supersedes the John Madden/Turducken Era. If we timed it right, we were sitting down at halftime to eat our Thanksgiving Day dinner, which in Maine is long before supper. Supper in Maine on Thanksgiving was leftovers from dinner.
That’s when the mince meat pie was gobbled up.

Thanksgiving also traditionally launched the Christmas decoration season. No one, absolutely no one, hung a Christmas decoration until Thanksgiving was over. Now, when you walk into some stores, there are Christmas decorations on display before Halloween and some people no longer bother to hang their Xmas decorations because they stay up all year.

Black Friday didn’t exist back then either. It was good Friday because it was good that we didn’t have to go to school on Friday. My great anticipation was waiting for the Texas-Texas A&M game. The great anticipation on Friday now is waiting in line at 4 a.m. for store doors to open. In Maine, they were standing in the freezing rain and there is only one thing more torturous than that – watching the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

This Thanksgiving, there were three NFL games – one that you can’t find on TV unless you pay for it. My nephew was really into the Lions-Patriots game because he has Tom Brady on his fantasy football league team. When I was growing up, the only fantasy football player I remember on Thanksgiving was the New York Giants’ Frank Gifford because my dad always talked glowingly about him as if he was the greatest player of all time in his mind.

That’s when Thanksgiving was real and simple.


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