Nothing is more mystifying to me than when a grown man expresses tremendous emotion over of a sports game. Yet, here I am typing this blog because tonight, my strong, creative, artistic bear of a man was in tears, literally . . . because the NY Giants just won Superbowl XLVI.
I wanted to be supportive, really I did, but my interest in the game had more to do with watching a gracefully aging Madonna strut her stuff in the ultimate demonstration of Girl Power than anything else. I wish I could say I cared about yardage gained but I focused more intently on analyzing the fun/wow factor of technology, car and soda sipping polar bear commercials.
All that aside, at the end of the night, there I was, holding my honey’s hand, patting it, while tears streamed from his eyes. “Thanks honey,” he said as he wiped the tears from his eyes. “For what?” I asked.
“Just being with you is lucky,” he whispered. And that’s when it dawned on me. Maybe what makes this American ritual so powerful and so pervasive is that it has as much, if not more, to do with connection than it does with the sport itself. So I asked, “what is it about this game that makes you so emotional? Is it really just because they won?”
Honey took a moment before answering. “It’s one of the only connections I have with my father. I used to watch games with him when I was growing up.” Note to those of you, who like me, can’t tell the difference between the business end of a football and a snow-shoe; baseball has an over 160 game season, football 16 plus the post season; every game is an event, a opportunity to connect with family, friends — with those you love. More than anytime during our hectic lifestyles, it’s an opportunity for so many to leave the week behind and celebrate life without worrying about work, or money, or the kids.
Watching the post-game news, one reporter shared a story of three generations of a family on Long Island who have always spent their Sunday nights together in order to watch the Giants play. Suddenly what my honey said jumped off the screen.
The fact is, until now, my children and I have not had these kinds of traditions and maybe that’s why tonight’s game was such a foreign experience for me. Now I have a different context for understanding what the mania is all about thanks to my honey. It’s about family and connection, and this is a concept that is vastly more familiar to me.
So I asked myself, do I have any rituals that have been passed down from my family that I share with my children? Though I am the type to cry easily — Kay jewelry commercials, chick-flick trailers and Disney movies move me equally — I wondered which of my past-times or professional pursuits translated with the same passion to my children that football does to my honey and his family?
This begged the question, what did I get from my parents? I can think of obvious generational hand-me-downs such as work ethic, recipes, and my strong liberal Democratic leanings.
But what is the catalyst, the thing, that morphs a simple act or attitude into a life-long familial passion that becomes a truly meaningful and relevant tradition? Do I have any of those in my family history? Is there anything that I can say ‘when I hear/see/do this . . . I think of my family’?
As a young girl, my father played our baby grand piano and I sang along with while he played Mozart’s Ah vous, dirai-je Maman (aka twinkle, twinkle little star/ABC song). And even before that, my mother encouraged me to write my first poems and her mother, my beloved Grandmother, taught me my first musical theatre song and how to understand Shakespeare’s sonnets. I know these experiences were the foundation of my musical and writing careers, but did these experiences a tradition make?
Tonight, my son, daughter and I watched and held sacred witness to the ritual of American football. Even though my daughter did some taunting on behalf of the Patriots to stay loyal to her best friend whose family generously hosted the Superbowl party we attended, we all held a space for the man we love as he smiled, screamed and ultimately cried. Who won? The New York Giants, but ultimately, we all won, my family won, because we felt a deeper connection to each other and to my honey.
Now, in the experiencing of these new-to-us rituals I know we are somehow helping to create a deeper connection with my children. And even though I am not necessarily a football fanatic, I am a huge fan of those I love, and will be here to embrace their passions even if it means watching a game I can barely follow.
So after a long and fun night it’s me who wants to break into a nifty end zone samba. Who knows, maybe that could become a tradition too!