Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kansas City and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It's a day where the dominant message is to be thankful. It's a day to savor food and plenty, but also a day that kicks off the season of giving. It's football, it's family, it's wonderful.

My family goes to Kansas City each year on the holiday. Sitting here in Columbia I can picture driving in the sun past fields on I-435 in Kansas to get there. We're a melting pot, fans of Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU. The Detroit Lions toil away on the big TV* while everyone eats.

* Joe Posnanski: "I love that one day a year I'm allowed, no, encouraged, no, commanded by American law and the powers of tradition to sit in front of the television and watch the Detroit Lions play football." 

When I think of Kansas City, Thanksgiving is definitely high on the list. It fits well with the city, with all those years of Joe Posnanski's clip-and-save-worthy Thanksgiving columns in the Star. The Plaza lighting that night is one of the city's great traditions. For so many years in the magical '90s, Thanksgiving brought lots of excitement that each year could be the one the Chiefs broke through. You could feel the whole city anticipating the playoff success to match all that regular season success. They're still waiting. I'm a 49ers fan, but there feels like a bit of a void this year with no Chiefs hope. Those were special years when I was a kid and Arrowhead roared and anticipation for the Chiefs and the Plaza lighting mirrored each other.

After the meal comes the backyard football game. When I was younger I wore Steve Young and Jerry Rice jerseys out there; Thursday I plan to wear my Michael Crabtree jersey. Oh to have a highlight reel of the plays on that expanse of grass. The "Statue of Liberty" fumble. The defenders-fall-down cutback in the snow. The cracked ribs play. The attempted pump-fake where the ball flew out of the quarterback's hand. All those sensational catches. The interception returns. Defenders bunched for a blitz, the quarterback hastily heaving the ball in the air, through the crisp blue sky, into a forest of hands.

Afterwards comes the end of the Cowboys game at JerryWorld, an iconic football team with a huge, opulent stadium and massive HD video board and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and big Salvation Army kettles... about as American an event as you'll find. We often play men vs. women Trivial Pursuit after, a delightful exercise in minutia.

That's a peek at my Thanksgiving. You probably have your own traditions and joys in your celebrations. I'm thankful for a lot, including my Thanksgivings in Kansas City.

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