Even though I’m not as loud or talkative as my two sisters, I can be fiercely competitive when it comes to playing games—especially the annual Mahaney Family Turkey Bowl.
For years, Dad has insisted that the family football game be a fixed part of our holiday, and like everything else, “What we do we do together.” That means everyone participates. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, or whether you want to or not, or even if you are pregnant!
I know a lot of families watch or play football on Thanksgiving. But I doubt you’ve ever seen a game quite like ours. There are still first downs and fourth downs and touch-downs and punts. However, the permanent quarterback (Dad) likes to have a little fun. So he calls plays like: “Go three steps, drop to the ground, do a summersault, and then break to the right” or “Everyone hold hands and go in a circle and then scatter while Mike goes long” or “All players tackle Brian before running their route.”
And for years, this game has taken place in the center of Colonial Williamsburg on the lawn next to the courthouse. We’ve definitely received some funny looks and even attracted the occasional fan.
Even though Mom, Nicole, Janelle, and I sometimes complain about how cold it is or how we don’t feel like playing this year, it is actually a treasured memory for all of us. It’s so fun to laugh and joke about the funny moments from past years—especially when the game is over and you’re in a warm place with some hot chocolate! And now it’s a tradition I can share with my boys, as Andrew is old enough to join in the game.
However, my greatest satisfaction comes from the fact that my little brother Chad still can’t cover me. To Chuckie: You can “trash talk” and deny it all you want, but my record still stands. You have never beaten your sister, a girl, and I still remain Dad’s go-to receiver. And this Thanksgiving isn’t going to be any different!
I hope you’re inspired to organize your own Turkey Bowl this year. You’re sure to have affectionate rivalries and wonderful memories for years to come.