THANKSGIVING FOOTBALL: On this holiday, so much saving grace

reporter photo

After morning rain, the weather by afternoon was actually quite nice.

You may have forgotten that about Thanksgiving Day 2020.

Understandable. You may have been fixated on what the day was lacking.

Family? Probably. Football? Definitely. 

The pandemic pinched family gatherings and denied us high school football entirely — trivial losses alongside lives and livelihoods lost to COVID, yet not so trivial at a time of distance and dislocation, when so much of our world was unmoored.

Whether you live for Aunt Judy’s pumpkin pie or in dread of what Uncle Joe might say at the table, whether you play football or coach it or just watch from the stands, you keenly felt the absence of it all last Thanksgiving.

“I missed it immensely,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said of the football side of the menu while talking to the R-J’s Sean Krofssik. “It stunk not having a game last year; it was terrible. Growing up in Meriden, it’s something you are used to. Your body was accustomed to getting up for a game on Thanksgiving morning.”

Same thing in Wallingford, Southington and Cheshire. Rise and shine. Get out and go. The parking lots are filling fast.

Instead, Thanksgiving 2020 dawned as empty as a Siberian steppe.

Frederick said he cried. Perhaps being Dad to Baby Sofia has softened him some.

Closer to the truth: We all missed the human touch during the depths of the pandemic, and a year ago this morning we were staring into the face of a lost holiday and COVID’s second wave rather than the faces of old friends at the old school.

No need to wait for formal class reunions. Just show up at Thanksgiving Day football games. Then get on home to greet Aunt Judy and Uncle Joe and the rest of the folks at the front door.

Perhaps, some day, Thanksgiving football in Connecticut will fall before the ever-expanding altar of playoff football. As sacred as traditions may be, they can prove mortal or slip into less cherished ones by degrees.

More and more teams play the night before the holiday. With talk of high school consolidation in Wallingford, the Carini Bowl’s years may be numbered.

As the pandemic reminded us, time is almost always tighter than we know.

For now, on this Thanksgiving Day, resurrection is the word. Like you, I’ve been going to these games and hugging Aunt Judy and holding my tongue with Uncle Joe for a lifetime.

I can’t recall the last time I so looked forward to one and all.

And the weather is supposed to be quite nice.

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