The Family Apple Tree

Nothing can shake a stick at the tsunami of clichés in sports newscasting on Thanksgiving day.  One tired old athlete after the next call it like they see it from behind the Sports Desk.  Which player’s got the edge? When exactly is ‘gut-check time’??  And which team has got what it takes to bring it on home??? It’s anybody’s game, people. Every battle that comes down to the wire is just like another flip of the coin.  Even when one side seems down for the count, the tide may turn. But if it turns again and again, the crowd will go wild ’cause that’s when clutch players dig deep and show you what they’re made of in the clutch, whatever that means.

You can feel electricity in the air when two behemoths face off, trading blow for blow for their organization.  “Hey, did the tide turn, because this looks like a whole new ballgame folks!”  But when push comes to shove, one goliath will take home the gold. The other is left to lick his wounds.  “Shake it off fellas.  Tomorrow’s another day.”  It’s a story as old as time.  It’s the thrill of victory and the agony…. of….. uhhhhh….  Oh, nuts! I haven’t gone over my cliché limit have I?!  Don’t get me started on the misuse of the word ‘momentum’ as a pre-game predictor, or ‘lost momentum’ as the post-game-analysis patsy for whatever mysterious forces knocked a team off it’s axis allowing the underdog’s surprise come-from-behind victory that defies logic.

At least for a few brief moments last summer, I had hope that the Olympics might offer salvation from nonsensical sports chatter when NPR announced their Poetry Games.  Their crackerjack historians recalled that from 1912 to 1948 official Olympic Competition included Poetry, Art and Music.  Seemed like the track and field stadium would have been the perfect place to host the Iambic Pentathalon, but I didn’t hear much after that.   Perhaps Olympic organizers would have had better luck filling stadium seats if they forced the athletes to muse over their chosen athletic pursuit.  Imagine the mush-mouth Michael Phelps against that cunning linguist Ryan Lochte, churning it up Waterman-Pen stroke for stroke in a no-holds-barred battle of Bics.  Now that’s a slugfest I’d like to see, clichés and all!  

Alas, having just been immersed in Thanksgiving’s deluge of back-to-back-to-back-to-back football games, one thing is clear:  Now is not the time to hope for renaissance in sportscasting coverage.  So as I sit here recovering from a 48-hour Thanksgiving bender surrounded by in-laws and their in-laws, and anticipating tomorrows arrival of my father’s ‘side’ of my family for a second round of holiday feast-ivities, I begin to wonder:  Which side of our collective family tree will each of my sons begin to identify with more as they mature and their personalities develop?  
 
I’m not suggesting that they’ll like one side more than the other but c’mon, don’t we all?  Undoubtedly, they’ll hear variations on “You look just like your mother” or that ol’ back-handed compliment “You are just like your father” over the years.  But to them there is no distinction between the ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ sides of the family…YET.  They aren’t privy to enough family ‘lore to truly appreciate why they call crazy uncle Dave “Crazy Uncle Dave”. They don’t yet have any in-laws to enjoy the, shall we say, ‘contrast’ to their own family tree, and they haven’t developed a superficial interest in cinema vs sports babble to to draw them one way or the other.  But just as individual personalities are different, so too are the collective personalities of a family line.  Inevitably, as each of my son’s personalities develop they will begin to identify with one side of the family more than the other. Maybe they’ll all just prefer to hang with whoever is in the room with the game on.  It may be conscious awareness of a kindred spirit or the ease of a simple conversation that draws them together.   Whatever the case, I imagine some day they will find themselves sitting at a great Thanksgiving Feast or a cousin’s wedding, waxing poetic over their favorite team or chuckling at some clever exchange of humorous banter with one of their aunts or uncles when they realize which side of the family tree their apple fell from.
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