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I played in a thanksgiving football game 53 years in the making

On Thanksgiving morning, nestled in the heartland of St. Paul, Minnesota, a tradition 53 years strong was once again played out under a tenebrous, wintry sky. The air was rich, redolent with nostalgia – a one-hand touch football game, a love letter to the game's countless memories embedded in multiple family generations.

The cold was biting, the wind piercing. Some years, there have been snowflakes spiralling down, dusting the field with winter, yet the game played on. A heart-warming vision of resilience that paid homage to the spirit of football.

This year, like every year, players gathered around to flaming bonfires, warming their hands with mugs of frothy cold beer and fiery Fireball shots, the fuel for their upcoming game. Familiar faces, once young and sprightly, now marked with age, stood tall and proud. They had attended every single Thanksgiving game since they were boys, continuing their fathers' legacy, further solidifying this beautiful tradition.

In the bustle, I saw faces that whisked me back twenty years, back to the hallways of high school and the echoes of youthful laughter. Smiles lighting up faces that had matured, but held the same twinkle in their eyes. There was a shared joy, a cognitive symphony in reconnecting with old friends on an unforgettable day.

And then, once everyone gathered their spirits, the game began. Everyone poured everything they had into the field- victory was the shared goal (or perhaps just avoiding the pain of a hamstring pull or running out of breath on a five yard slant), but it was woven with threads of camaraderie and familial bond. My team emerged victorious, an achievement we wore with pride. But, the most cherished moment was one of playful betrayal; my son's gleaming eyes as he intercepted my pass that drove his team to a touchdown.

It wasn't the defeat that made the moment resonate, but the sight of my son following my footsteps, participating in a contest older than him, soaking in the tradition. The memory was simple, and yet inexplicably profound, serving as a testament to the underlying magic of this annual tradition.

Football on Thanksgiving isn’t just a game. It's an emblem of unity, of generations coming together. One striking example is a particular family that had over three generations on the field. Age ceased to be a segregator; it turned into a common thread weaving everyone together on the gridiron.

Savoring the victory, the familial bonds, the renewed old friendships, and the crowning moment with my son, I looked around. Everyone was leaving the field, their faces red with satisfaction, their hearts full with memories. The Thanksgiving touch football game at Afton Park, in St. Paul, Minnesota, was more than a tradition; it was a yearly pilgrimage to the altar of nostalgia, camaraderie, family and unity, in my eyes, this is what Country is about, An irreplaceable piece of our lives that promises to endure and encapsulate many more golden moments in the future.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving folks.



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