Turkey Bowls—Creating Lasting Memories for All Ages
At least two decades ago, my brother Talmage launched what has now become the Egan Turkey Bowl. Unfortunately, this year was the first in many years that we could not stage
this exceedingly engaging event. As you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to hope for better bowl games next year.
This bowl-related event is tied to the Thanksgiving Holiday. On the morning of the big feast and celebration, we gather at one of our homes at about 8:00 am. We enjoy juices, bagels, hot chocolate with whipped cream, cinnamon rolls, and fruit. Some wear their favorite football jerseys of college or professional teams. Others dress for comfort and warmth.
Lest someone thinks this is an all-male event—it is not. Also, because of the number of participants, we often have four different teams. Cousins, friends, and neighbors of all ages join in this annual event. We have very young children, teens, young adults, adults, and old guys like me. For the past three years, I have been the photographer for the games. Also, I am often called upon to take care of disputes—without the aid of instant replays.
We set up the fields with soccer cones as boundary markers. We play regardless of the weather. Snow, rain, or sleet do not prevent us from joining in this annual sports event. Each player wears a set of tear-away flags. Frequently, we use colored bandanas to identify different teams.
Significant features of these turkey bowls are these. Everyone, who wants to, may play any position on the team. Even if you are very young, you may be a tight end, a quarterback, a center, etc. The primary objective of the bowl is to have fun. However, some have a difficult time embracing this aim. Honestly, we kind of go back and forth in realizing this goal.
One of the best features of the games is Nathan Egan's performance. He is a forty-plus-year-old adult in our family who excels despite some challenges related to autism. One of our greatest joys is seeing him run for touchdowns—often several during any bowl game. It seems no one can strip his flags even with their "best" efforts. Almost nothing equals the joy that is ours in watching Nate celebrate his touchdown runs. Over the years, he has become known as Nate the Great.
Turkey bowls represent one of our longest and most valued traditions. Their value is tied to the event's significant elements (great-tasting breakfast food, crazy team formations, opportunities to play different positions, the intergenerational banter, and the sustaining of long-term relationships). Like so many great traditions—this one carries with it all kinds of stories and remembrances.
Also, because we have consistently taken pictures of the various bowls, grandchildren can see how they and their cousins have changed and grown over time. Believe it or not, one participant in our turkey bowls will soon be playing for Stanford University. We haven't had anyone drafted by the NFL, but who knows what will happen over time.
Your family traditions need not be turkey-bowl-like events. Still, they need to be something your grandchildren and their parents enjoy. These events may be a creative activity, a bake-off, or an engaging game. Your "traditionalize" these events by repeating them every year, making them gradually more exciting and engaging.
Be creative! Be brave! Involve your grandkids. You will be surprised by what they generate.