Thanksgiving is a holiday about food, family and — since 1876 — football. Those three things are great and all, but sometimes numbers one and two are lacking in appeal. I am lucky enough to have had all three be good this year, but there is often one that is not up to par. I give thanks that the other two can often make up for it.
Food can be bad, but good family time and good football can get you through. The turkey may be burnt, but if your family is happy, healthy and does not fight too much, you can probably make it. You can most definitely make it if your team wins too.
On the other hand, the football can be bad — as it has been on-and-off throughout my life — with the Bears losing some big Thanksgiving games and winning others. Luckily, I mostly remember the more recent wins. Shoutout to Davante Adams. On the days of a bad loss, like the Lions’ win in 2014, I had good food and good family time to get me by.
Here it is though: Football can get you past it all at Thanksgiving. If that food is bad? You’ve got your quarterback to eat up defenses. No cranberry sauce left in the bowl? Maybe a shot at the Super Bowl instead. When football is on, your stomach can be filled with joy instead of a poorly-made green bean casserole.
More importantly, football is huge for families with divisions. An uncle pries too much about your love life? Oh, look, the game is on! Someone decides that now is the perfect time to make a stump speech about their favorite political party? Ref, make a good call! Somehow still angry about when your cousin did not call to check in about that issue your grandma had three years ago? Let’s go Bears!
I am not saying I had these things at my Thanksgiving — I was lucky to have a great one and have historically had fantastic Turkey Day meals with even better company. I just know a lot of people who have bad Thanksgivings saved by football being on. Your team may only play once that day, but there is a reason they have games going on throughout the entire Thanksgiving holiday. From 11:30 a.m. until the 7:20 p.m. game ends (I was in the Midwest, my home, so the games are an hour earlier than Eastern Time), there is a game on to distract whomever necessary from whatever they were talking about and save your holiday.
Football is great as-is and Thanksgiving can be as well. It just has to be acknowledged that the American tradition of tossing the pigskin on the most family feasting-oriented holiday is a brilliant diversion and a possible holiday-saver. So, on this past Turkey Day, as with all others, I give thanks for so much in my life. This is not even close to the top of my list. But, for the sake of this column, I have to say: Thank you, football. Now let’s eat.