One of the things many Americans think of when they think of Thanksgiving Day is football. I’m not talking the kind with a round ball and colored cards, I’m talking about the American version. My dad is a HUGE football fan. He can’t think of anything better than watching the big game after our thanksgiving meal. In fact, my mom usually has to plan the timing of the meal around the game. For several hours we aren’t allowed to walk past the TV or interrupt the game in any way. We would be allowed to watch if we cheered for the “right” team and didn’t ask him too many questions about what was going on. My friends who had larger families would stage their own backyard football games.
After we shared our Thanksgiving meal, we would often break out the board and card games. One of our favorite ones to play is a card game called “Hand and Foot” that involves a HUGE pile of cards (one deck for every player, plus one more.) We also have other family favorites. The “Racecar Game” is a game my mom played with some of her friends, then created her own. Commercial board games fill our living room closet so that you have to very carefully remove the ones you want or suffer an avalanche of game boards and game pieces. It is inevitable that the one you want is perched somewhere precariously or supporting another yet precarious box.
After choosing the game we want to play, we gather around the kitchen table, pulling chairs and foot stools from around the house. The games are a fantastic way to end a day, and we usually play until it is way past dark outside. The laughter and conversations that surround game times make some of my favorite holiday memories. I remember one thanksgiving in particular when the laughter got so rambunctious that my grandma lost her teeth in her drink! We were sitting around the table laughing and suddenly my grandmother had her hand over her mouth and was rushing off to the bathroom with her teeth in her water glass. This, of course lead to more laughter… and we will never let her forget it.
There is, of course, another side to game playing. Some games in our house just aren’t played anymore, or can’t be played with certain people. The competitive edge that leads to deep disappointment for the loser of a game prevents it. We always try to remain upbeat and positive, but sometimes it can’t be helped. 1 Peter 3:10-11 tells us “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it…”
It’s not easy, when you’re caught up in the heat of the moment, to remember to “search for peace,” but failing to do so can have serious consequences. It is much easier to say what’s on your mind, and think about it later. This is especially true with my Dad and many others who are watching their football games or playing in the backyard. It is easy to get caught up in friendly banter, but without “searching for peace,” friendly banter can turn into something else entirely.
O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.