EASTHAM — Thanksgiving is about celebrating traditions with family and friends. Each family and group of friends is unique, but it’s clear that for many of us, these time-honored rituals have sports themes.
It might be watching the NFL games (Lions vs. the Cowboys), going to see your local high school team play its arch-rival (Nauset vs. Dennis-Yarmouth), running in a “turkey trot,” or going duck hunting. I’m sure in some homes, playing card games counts as a sport.
Our family tradition was backyard football. My three cousins, aunt, uncle, and a few other family members would usually come to our house for the holiday.
Before we sat down for the big feast, we would play a tackle football game on the lawn. It’s not a very big field, roughly rectangular, and the woods, outdoor shower, and a small rock wall immediately border it. So it was a little risky at times. But we loved it.
Each year we would reminisce about whose team won the year before and who had the best play of the day. I remember one cousin falling into the rock wall as he caught a touchdown pass. He came up fine.
As the years went by, the game evolved from tackle to two-hand touch, and then faded into just tossing the ball around in the yard.
Now I’m 24, and for the last few years our families haven’t gotten together on Thanksgiving the way we used to. But we still laugh every time we talk about how we actually played tackle football on that small field with obstacles so close by.
Fortunately, I’ve found a new backyard game, similar to the old one, but on a much bigger field.
The Frodel household “Turkey Bowl” started out as a family affair, but in recent years my friends Colby and Cade Frodel have invited me and others to participate.
The Frodels have a pretty sizable field with white lines to distinguish the sidelines and end zones. It’s a step up from my old backyard football days.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Frodels’ Turkey Bowl, and it was a four-on-four two-hand touch battle. One team donned blue jerseys and the other white. There’s a “family referee,” and Colby’s and Cade’s father, Dean, mediates by hiking the ball to each team.
Conditions were tough, as it was raining lightly and the field was muddy. Each team fought to score 70 points first — which happens quicker than you might expect.
Before the game, we do a considerable amount trash talking about who is going to win.
My team, in the blue jerseys, lost by one touchdown for the second year in a row.
What I enjoy most about this tradition is that we have continued it and let it evolve.
Whatever tradition your family or friends share on Thanksgiving, or any other holiday for that matter, keep it alive. And if it starts to fade, find a new group to keep it going and pass it on to the next generation.