Any given Sunday
Last Sunday was Epiphany, which meant we could take down the Christmas tree. I don’t make the rules, folks.
The three of us in this house commented on what a good tree it was, how it did its job without making a big deal out of it. I get romantic sometimes, remembering the old days of shopping for the perfect tree, strapping it onto the roof, struggling to get it home, and then decorating it on one special evening, but I’m definitely making this up.
We haven’t had a real tree in a million years; both my wife and my daughter had trouble with allergies, and strapping a tree to the roof? I’m pretty sure I never did that, and also pretty sure I’m not missing anything.
Our old artificial tree, which served us so well we once left it up through most of basketball season, became kind of a hassle, especially considering that the cardboard box it called home for 11 months out of the year has started to deteriorate.
A couple of years ago my wife picked up this one, a 4-footer that needs almost no work to set up. Again, it does its job well, reminds us of the season and fills our hearts with goodness, and no sneezing.
The only problem with it, in fact, was that if you sat on the left side of the loveseat, it blocked part of the TV screen.
This wasn’t a real problem, since it’s so rare that all three of us sit down to watch something that I would call it, stastically speaking, essentially never.
We rarely watch the TV at all, actually. My son sometimes plays his Xbox games on it, but otherwise it’s a special-occasion appliance, as God intended.
Last week, though, he and I took turns sitting on the left side of the loveseat, craning a little, balancing plates in our laps, watching a football game.
There are so many odd things about this.
Again, we rarely sit down together to watch anything. Our tastes are different, as are our daily lives, and it just doesn’t come up.
And we almost never eat together anymore, another nod to chaotic lives. In so many ways we’ve become segregated, passing in the hallway, and we all feel it and wonder how to fix it, and don’t.
Finally, we don’t watch football. The craziness of our younger lives, when my wife and I would plan whole Sundays around games, scream and shout and scare our children, mellowed and then disappeared.
Tennis and baseball seem better choices, sometimes golf, when it comes to spectator sports. And here’s another epiphany: If you wander away from football, it starts to look sort of violent.
But we had to watch. We’d suddenly fallen out of the Seahawks loop, and we were beginning to feel like strangers in our own community. You know how it is; conversations get lively when the Hawks are winning, and we were starting to feel isolated.
When we were in Texas for my father-in-law’s funeral, in fact, a couple of people tried to start conversations around the Hawks and I felt like an idiot, or a Seattle sissie. You know Texas and football.
But Sundays are busy days for us, really busy, and we know all too well the emotional rollercoaster of 16 games. There was some reluctance, even with community responsibility, so I kept one eye on the Seahawks, sometimes putting the game on mute and catching it as I walked through, and now we were here, the first playoff game.
A playoff run is a gateway drug, obviously. So not only have I watched the past few games completely, parked in that loveseat, but my wife started to join me, and then my son.
As I say, we pretty much lost interest in football years ago. Occasionally I’ll watch part of a game, and pay attention to scores and standings, but it became less important and other diversions took its place.
I understand the appeal, in the same way I understand that there are a variety of interests out there, and it’s a given that people – even people who love each other and live under the same roof – might have little in common when it comes to pastimes. I’d never argue for football as a surefire way to bring families together.
But I realize that we’ve been this weird dynamic for 10 years, three separate people with complicated lives, and if anything we’ve paired up for comfort, two dealing with the other, lurching from crisis to crisis, not stopping so much to eat, or watch, or be three.
I understand why it works the way it does, and tend to celebrate that it does and not mourn all the possible ways it could have been different, but sometimes I think I could use some wise men around here.
Football will pass. Maybe next week, although it’ll be fun to have a little Seahawks ride in winter. Still, we will move on and forget, but I thought last Sunday that maybe we shouldn’t, just a little.
Maybe we can try a little harder to be three, from time to time, realizing that this is all we have. The tree will come down, the sightlines will improve, baseball will come, lives will go on, and maybe we can try just a little harder to be a real family, weird as we are. Call it an epiphany.