Our Second Annual Christmas Family Touch Football Game was a lot more successful than last year’s rather inauspicious inaugural event when Strong (but as it turned out, too short) Grandma went to the hospital.
The gestation of the 2010, inaugural game was with oldest son Jason (now 29) and our youngest (now 19) Adam. This game in the snow was just going to be simply the greatest, especially since it would reconnect Jason to his Wisconsin roots. He now lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his one-and-only and their two children.
(Flash forward to this year: The picture at left shows this year’s winning team of Strong Grandma, Jason, and son-in-law Mark. Note the lack of snow.)
The game got off to a rollicking good start in the 6-8 inches of new snow. However, things then went down hill a bit. I don’t really know why my bride and I were on the same team (it’s always more fun if we can jaw at each other across the line) but there I was, blocking a furious rush by Jason as she tried to run around the right side. Naturally, Jason and I were wrastlin’ and cheating (holding) up a storm when she ran a little too close to the writhing 400 pound mass of foolishness. At her towering 5′ 2″ she was at the perfect height to catch one of Jason’s flying elbows square across her left eye. It was one impressively awful sounding “Thwack.”
It is amazing how much red stuff can come out of a half-inch gash at the eyebrow caused by your glasses being strained through your face. Of course, the first thing Tough Strong Grandma (sometimes I call her Gloria) did was try to console the ashen faced Jason that she was ok: “No, really honey, it’s no big deal.” Of course, yours truly was on her side — I totally felt sorry for poor Jason for clocking his mom. For Jason’s benefit, Tough Strong No-Excuses Grandma did admonish herself for carelessly getting too close to her Prince Charming and her eldest son as they reverted to form. I mean, what was she thinking! The next thing she did was make some snowballs to use as compresses. That works pretty well: the cold reduces the swelling as the nice dry snow soaks up the blood.
Fortunately, most of our kids can cook. Gloria issued instructions for finishing up the Christmas feast and off mom and dad went to the emergency room to fetch some stitches. By then, the bleeding had largely stopped. If it was just my face, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. One more spot that was a little less pretty would not have been a big deal. However, by that time she had enjoyed over 33 years of age defying marital bliss. As a result, it is not unusual for her new students to guess that she is 15-20 years younger than she might really be. Since it was a fine woman’s face, well, the stitches just seemed like the right thing to do.
On the way to the hospital, I rehearsed not killing people. I knew that we would be asked a dozen different ways by a dozen different people whether or not I had stopped beating my wife. I reminded myself that it was Christmas and that I must exhibit Christ-like patience for the poor folks just doing their jobs. After all, they were going to be away from their families at least twice as long as the four hours we spent getting Mom patched back up.
Once I really got into the Christmas spirit; and after everyone was convinced that I wasn’t wearing a muscle shirt masquerading as a wife-beater under my sweater, the banter turned fun. It started taking the form of: “What are a couple of old (but looking young, thank you) fools like you doing playing in a Turkey Bowel, anyway?” The young PA that was stitching her up was really liking on the story. He said that he and his brothers and their friends still participated in a grand Turkey Bowel every Thanksgiving, and that the year before one of the guys had broken a leg. The guy knew just what to do, though, since he was an orthopedic surgeon who was quite qualified to diagnose why his hurting leg no longer worked so good.
We got home, none the worse for wear, just as the turkey was coming out of the oven. We sat down to eat, grateful that those that came after us could so routinely take over the hosting and preparation for the party. I was even more grateful that Gloria and I were both easily strong enough to still share in the sometimes silly things that make life so much fun.