Today, Novemeber 24, 2011, the people of the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that ultimately remembers the Pilgrims and early foundings of the colonies that eventually became the United States.  Those of us who are Christians add our own desire to thank God for all the things that He has done through Christ, is continuing to do for us, and will do one day when He returns.  Seeing that the Pilgrims were Christians we identify with them when others in our culture do not. 

However, the mainstay of the holiday in America has come to be family, food, and football.  I do not view those as evils in and of themselves.  They all have a special place in our hearts.  Outside of our relationship to God, there is nothing more significant that our relationship to our families.  Of course, I have always had a special relationship to food!  There has never been a pumpkin pie I did not like.   I could talk about my family with great emotion and remember the family feasts in very positive terms.  But here I want to talk about football, not as a man who loves football, but in a way that shows the connection of football and family.  The big game today between the Packers and the Lions is being heralded as a replay of the 1962 game on November 22 when the two-loss Lions upset the undefeated and champion Packers.  The picture above is from that game — the sacking of Bart Starr which happened often that day.  What makes this a special “football to family connection” is that when I was nine years old my family was staying for a couple of weeks in a motel in Syracuse, New York in November of 1962.  That is where I watched that game.  That is my first memory of watching a professional football game.  My Dad worked for General Electric.  My parents were married in Detroit and became Detroit sports fans.  That’s why I grew up following Al Kaline as my favorite baseball player–and why I was rooting for the Lions that day.  For those two weeks in Syracuse, General Electric was deciding where to send my Dad for his next assignment with the company.   We ended up in Huntsville, Alabama which became my real home for the rest of my life and where I became an Alabama Crimson Tide fan.  Every Thanksgiving I think about those two weeks in Syracuse and how the Providence of God moved so that the course of my life was set.  When I watch the game today, I believe I will think about that more than I usually do.  It will truly be a sentimental Thanksgiving when football reminds me of all of life.  I will thank the God who made me of His blessings in my life.   No matter what the score.  But I will be rooting for the Lions just as I did 49 years ago.