I just spent ten days back in the States. Wisconsin in February isn’t exactly your vacation hot spot, but I’d booked the ticket while there was still hope of watching a Green Bay Packer Superbowl with my family.
Oof. That didn’t turn out as intended. Green Bay, you’ve got another year to get your butts in gear. My advice? Win the games that count, you /%*+@#s!
So I wasn’t invested in the Superbowl, but I did get to do other things like shovel snow, have a Shamrock shake, buy stuff on clearance and eat an awesome hamburger. And, I got to spend time with my family. I have no regrets about moving to Switzerland, but I do miss my family. A lot. And when I’m with them that I wish I could stay.
I have two brothers and three sisters. Yes, we’ve had our moments. When we were young there was the usual sibling infighting — the days when my one brother chased me around the house with a Kleenex full of his snot or the times when my sisters tortured my other brother by calling him Susie. But most of my memories are good ones: The times Stephen let me wear his padded leather gloves on my feet so I could pretend I was a gorilla. Or the way Matt would make Kung Fu noises in the dark so that I’d think he was beating up the monsters I was sure were hiding in my bedroom at night. My sisters were on their way out of the house when I was born, so I’ve always more admired them than argued with them. I still do. They’re all so different, but they’re all smart and funny and courageous and have extremely big hearts.
In fact, none of us are alike. But we laugh together and reminisce and find common ground.
Which brings me back to football. Say what you will about the game. It’s violent. The players are overpaid. That there’s no real point in chasing a ball up and down a field. Whatever. But nothing can compare to Sunday afternoons with my family, brought together by those guys in green and gold. I see my daughters fight and scream, “I hate you!” to each other and I wish I’d started them on watching sports sooner. There’s something healing about everyone in the room rooting for the same thing, about the common joy when your team wins or the common disappointment when they don’t. People from all walks of life come together over sports. The idiots who take it too seriously and start fights in stadiums or online aren’t celebrating the true spirit of the game. It’s about identity and camaraderie and competition. Not hatred. Some friendly teasing, yes (hey, I’ve got my share of Chicago Bears jokes), but overall it should be FUN.
And that’s why I’m crossing my fingers for next year. I hope the Packers will bring my family together once again. That we’ll fly in from wherever we are to spend three hours screaming in solidarity. Nothing feels better.
But if that doesn’t happen, I’ll still go home and we’ll still meet around my mom and dad’s dining room table for pizza. We’ll swap jokes and memories and moan because we ate too much.
And we’ll complain, together, about how the Packers didn’t make it to the Superbowl. Again.