Thanksgiving in Alabama: Food, family and football

Thanksgiving in Alabama: Food, family and football

Annual Iron Bowl game is becoming a holiday tradition.

Nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, is more popular in my home state of Alabama than college football. And yes, that includes all major holidays. College football in Alabama, I dare say, is pretty much bigger than Christmas. That being said, when a holiday coincides in some way with a major football game, it's a win-win for everyone. Once again, the annual Iron Bowl, between bitter in-state college football rivals Alabama and Auburn, falls on the Thanksgiving weekend. Specifically, the 77th Iron Bowl will be played on Saturday, November 24, 2012, just two days after Turkey Day.

Now some of you are probably saying, "So what? Just watch the game and enjoy leftover turkey sandwiches." Oh, if it were only that easy. You see, in our family, we are sharply divided: Half of us went to Alabama (or pull for the Crimson Tide, no matter what our alma mater) and half of us went to Auburn. How do we keep the peace and continue to be thankful for each other on Thanksgiving?

I'll tell you what works for my family: During Thanksgiving dinner, we can discuss all manner of subjects -- even politics and/or religion. But bringing up college football, at least while we're all gathered around stuffing our faces with, well, stuffing (or "dressing" as most of my family calls it), is absolutely forbidden. You will not hear a muffled "Roll Tide" or "War Eagle" while we're sitting around my sister-in-law's elaborate feast. Anyone who dares to utter either phrase is immediately banished, with no pecan pie for dessert.

Once the Thanksgiving meal ends, all bets are off. That's usually when the spirits are imbibed, and lips get pretty loose. Trash talking about the Iron Bowl ensues. This is when Crazy Uncle Bill (and no, his name isn't Bubba or Cooter so just hush) will no doubt start going on and on about how mad he is that even if Alabama wins out this season, they'll miss out on another national championship "on account of that unfortunate Mayans thing." Once he gets going, I usually escape to a back bedroom to watch Wheel of Fortune with my great grandmother ("Buy a vowel, you ninny!") and curse the SEC for once again scheduling The Game over the holiday weekend. Ninnies, indeed.

Despite the harsh words that sometimes pass between the "Bammers" and "Barners," eventually at some point, usually after the post-turkey nap, everyone apologizes and agrees to play nice. We all share one common thing we're thankful for on this holiday, after all: Football. Roll Tide, and gobble gobble, y'all. I hope the Mayans weren't right...