My wife, two children and I journeyed to North Alabama to enjoy a spectacular Thanksgiving feast with approximately 50 other people. Mostly family, "adopted" family, and a few friends.
As you already know, the simple logistics of one of these prolific "get-togethers" requires a lot of planning and patience. The lack of one requires more of the other no doubt. I come from a medium-sized family, but when four generations are involved it can get crowded very fast. I won't go into the genealogy, but THERE WERE A LOT OF FOLKS THERE!!!!
Families travelled as far away as Tampa, FL & Washington, D.C. Most attending folks lived within 20 miles or at least within the same state. This is the type of thing every loving family lives for... IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!! This was also IRON BOWL WEEK! At fist glance, it seemed like it would be so much fun. Watching Bama's last regular season game against rivalry Auburn. During most games, we watch them either alone or with immediate family and now would be the chance to share game time conversation face to face and in real time with other cherished family members.
Almost everyone stayed to watch the game at my uncle's house as he was the host. As game time drew closer, more and more folks piled in to watch the game on my uncle's newly (Black Friday) purchased 50" HDTV. This room always seemed plenty big, but as more folks piled in to watch, we had to bring in more and more chairs.
By game time, let me paint you a picture of the room: Square room. TV against one wall. From the left adjacent wall we had Cousin #1 an Auburn grad; her husband Biff... a former Auburn Baseball player; my nephew #1, a senior in HS and Bama fan; my brother #1, a UT fan; my Uncle #1, an avid Bama fan; myself; my cousin #1, a current Alabama student; sitting on a foot rest - my step-daughter & Brother #2 - both bama fans; in the adjacent chair - My uncle #2 - the host - Bama fan; next to him... my step-father - an avid TN fan; and next to him - uncle #3 - A Florida native an Auburn graduate.
Other people not sitting in the room but would play parts during the game are my mother, three aunts, sister-in-law, my wife and several children under the age of 12. Oh, and I almost forgot Roger, my 35 yr. old mentally challenged first cousin who spent his formative years listening to Auburn games with my uncle (absent due to tragic events). Jim Fyffe no doubt played a HUGE role in Roger's life.
As we realized the magnitude of the situation, we requested all women and children watch the game on the equally as vivid TV that just so happened to be upstairs. My wife and my brother's wife, possibly taking offense to this, decided to go shopping. THANK YOU. The much anticipated kickoff arrives. Thank Heavens!
No Verne Lundquist on this day. Turns out we get an equally as bad...no...way worse, Craig Bolerjack & Steve Buerlein. The only connection either of these guys have to SEC football is when then Notre Dame QB Steve Buerlein was lit up by Alabama OLB Cornelius Bennett during the 1986 Bama/ND game. This moment now lives on in history as the subject of a Daniel Moore lithograph and is also displayed in the Bear Bryant Museum on the Bama campus.
Back to the game. Auburn pulls several trick plays and go up 14-0 within the first quarter. Us Bama fans are tense but not discouraged. "Brother, where do you keep your salt?" among other thoughtless acts of selfishness such as walking in front of the television as the ball was being snapped were aplenty, believe me. "Who's winning?", "What time do you think this game will be over?" and numerous other stupid relentless lines of questioning...
By halftime, it's apparent that this will not be a blowout by Bama and could possibly come down to last second drive by either team. Early in the 3rd quarter Auburn struck on a deep pass for a touchdown. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. The Auburn fans that were present were nice enough not to gloat or more accurately, were in shock themselves. Except for Roger.
Approximately two minutes after the go ahead Auburn touchdown, Roger came running through the room yelling, "Touchdown! Auburn!" Most of the Auburn fans got a chuckle. Most Bama fans wished Roger would've been sent away as a child. The 4th quarter proved to be as testing as the previous three.
To make a long story short, Bama won in the end. Lesson learned: All of us have a gameday ritual. When that ritual is disrupted, we all turn into Rain Man.