Growing up I assumed Plymouth Rock was somewhere in Michigan. I also believed that Detroit was some fantasy Thanksgiving land where everyone drove Ford vehicles. That was the only explanation for why my Thanksgivings always included the Detroit Lions. Year after year, my family would gather in the kitchen and say grace over the food while the Detroit Lions played on mute in the background. For years I asked myself why anyone would go to a football game on Thanksgiving and miss out on the deliciousness of it all. I watched the fans in Detroit and thought two things to myself: 1) what must that experience be like?; and 2) they must be hungry. Overall, I never quite understood Detroit and why Thanksgiving always included the Lions, but this year for the first time, it makes sense.
Some years ago, my older sister moved to Thanksgiving Fantasy Land for her career. She met her husband there and now my family has extended to Detroit. Since she has moved there, I have learned that Plymouth Rock is not in Michigan, everyone doesn’t drive a Ford, and the state is not all that different from most. I have not yet experienced the Thanksgiving Day football game, but that all will change come Thursday.
On some years my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. This is one such year. It just so happens that the home team, the Houston Texans, will play Detroit on Thanksgiving this year – on my birthday. Being a diehard Texans fan, the announcement of the 2012 schedule meant many things. First it meant that my Texans would be playing in front of a large national audience. Second, it meant that the home team would be playing on my birthday. Lastly, it meant that I would most certainly be at Ford Field on November 22. I didn’t know how I was going to make this Thanksgiving fantasy come true, but I was determined to make it happen.
In early August, my sister and I began discussing Thanksgiving plans. Typically, she works on Thanksgiving. Being a nurse has its perks, especially on major holidays. However, this year was different. She called me early one morning and told me that she wasn’t working on Thanksgiving. She explained that for my birthday, she secured tickets to the Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Texans and Lions. Instantly, my world lit up with excitement and I quickly found a flight to Detroit.
For me, Thursday is so much more than my birthday or a regular gameday. This is my chance to be a part of a deeply rooted American tradition – the Thanksgiving Classic. This is the opportunity to give thanks for one more year of life, and to also give thanks for the moments like this where new traditions are made and lifelong dreams are fulfilled. Although the game will delay the inevitable Thanksgiving Day feast, with pride I will sit in the stands and root for my Texans, reveling in the fact that this will be a full circle moment for me. For years the Lions matchup was a mere extension of my Thanksgiving experience through the television screen. This year, it will be the defining moment of the holiday in a very real and tangible way.