If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

01 January 2007


When we were kids, New Year's Day and Superbowl Sunday were the two days in the year that football was ALWAYS on in our house. That's not to say that it wasn't on at other times, but without fail - those two days it was the absolute center of activity.

Mom would magically produce a giant spread of enormously fattening food, including 'snippets' (buttery sesame toasted triangles of goodness), scoopy fritos with warm homemade chili cheese dip, sausage & cheese balls, spinach dip in a bread bowl ... and we would eschew any sort of proper meal for the day in favor of snacking our way through the spread. For two kids whose life revolved around the five fruits and vegetables a day and well-balanced meals eaten at a dining room table, these 'food-holidays' were eagerly anticipated, and I know as adults both my sister and I have carried those food traditions forward.

Dad, for his part, would spend the morning putting together a large grid on posterboard of 100 squares, a pool for the games. The board would get passed around, and we'd all initial our random boxes before the drawing of the numbers. Strategies varied - some spread out their initials deliberately, covering as much space as possible. Others flung caution to the wind, decorating more artistically the board with random initialing.

There would be a big flourish of drawing the random 0-9 numbers for the top and bottom, and which team got which side of the grid. The number-picking was always split evenly by the children. I'm sure there are five different ways to work football pools, but that was always the way our family did it. Prices were put on the squares (I vaguely remember it being $.25 when we were younger, and increasing to $1. as adults?) There was a smaller pot for the score at the end of the first three quarters, and a larger for the final.

Even if we didn't care a whit about who was playing, we'd all pick teams to cheer for in each of the games. None of us, in childhood or adulthood, had ties to a school that ever made it into one of the major bowl games ... (Hell, I graduated from a school that didn't even HAVE a football team!!) and so for those of us who didn't know a damn thing about football, decisions were made on totally arbitrary criteria: my friend went to college there! I've been to that town before! I like their mascot! Purple is my favorite color!

There are 365 days in a year, and yet some of my very happiest memories of my family's home were made during those two days a year.

I find myself spending New Year's Day 2007 in a country that thinks 'football' is soccer ... and where a good spicy bloody mary is hard to come by. So instead, I haul in more firewood, and use the first of the year to clean out stacks upon stacks of old files (why does the bank feel it necessary to send me a SEVEN PAGE STATEMENT every month for an account that has 200 Euros in it?!? Better yet, why did I feel obligated to keep them?!?!). I take advantage of the quiet to finish cleaning and storing the last batch of sun-dried fennel seeds that I harvested earlier in the fall. I cook lentils, even though I don't really like lentils, because lentils on New Years' Day is a good luck charm here. And I wear red underwear. (I'll take all the good luck I can get.)

But today, truth be told, I know that I would trade absolutely anything to just ... be curled up on a couch, watching the Rose Bowl game. And I'm not really even a that much of a football fan, but ... Hey, I have friends who went to Michigan!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey girlie! Luke is here dressed in his first U of M onesie and Sportsfan is downstairs screaming at the TV and I am here reading your blog wishing you were here.
miss you.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Viaggiatore said...

UP: I *KNEW* Luke would be wearing a UofM onesie... but alas, even the support of the newest fan wasn't enough to overcome the USC stomping. I could totally picture SportsFan yelling at the screen ... there wouldn't have been enough scotch in the house to calm him down! Missing you all, can't wait to see you next time I'm through your neck of the woods! xo, V.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tradition continues- we did the spread and watched the games- and thought about those wonderful times that started it all. No pool though- not as exciting with 2 people- someday! thanks for the memories!! DS

12:23 AM  
Blogger I'm Just a Girl said...

I don't think I ever knew about the football tradition...although I do remember your Mom's incredible spreads ("California lunches, anyone?) and always looked forward to them. I'm glad you have such a great memory. Miss you lots!!!!

6:22 PM  

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