Yesterday, kids here in Michigan went back to school. Meanwhile, in Florida, kids have already been in school for a few weeks. This new rhythm feels strange to me, but I’m not going to lie–I like it. I used to watch stores put out fall decorations, watch families on Instagram and Facebook still enjoying their summer vacations all the way through August, and buy myself a cinnamon broom from Publix, but it used to drive me crazy that it still felt exactly like summer. When there is not drastic or even noticeable change of weather as summer shifts to fall, and if you aren’t in school or have school-aged kids, there’s so little to mark the change.
Still, I think there’s value in noticing and marking the seasons as they change, both on the calendar and in our lives. This is something I’ve only grown to appreciate more since moving. Since Evan and I got married, college football has become one of the major ways we mark the transition into fall.
In some ways, it’s just a practical change or a change in our budget: this is the time of year when we’re most likely to begin paying for cable again, lest we be forced to go without our beloved ESPN. But more significantly, it means a shift in the rhythm of our days. I know exactly what our Saturdays will look like each year. We are up and on the couch by 9 a.m. because Gameday is on. I know that our home will be noisier than normal with the din of sports announcers and fight songs always in the background. Errands will be arranged around the schedule of games.
I know that from September through January, we’ll eat far more hamburgers, pizza, and chicken wings than normal. We’ll brace ourselves for occasional tiffs about whose team colors Ian will wear and whose game is more important if–God forbid–our teams play at the same time. And we have to be ready for a bit of grumpiness anyone our teams lose; Evan and I both have a kind of “do not talk to me right now” demeanor after a loss.
After one week of college football, I already know that this season will be a little different because Ian is bigger. He looks at the t.v. or computer screen and says, “hoot-ball!” He yells “oh no!” after tackles and refers to the players by the color of their jerseys: blue guys and red guys and black guys. Our games last weekend were punctuated with shouts of “yay guys!” and “Go Knights!” and “chomp chomp” in his little toddler voice. It was so fun. (Of course, we also have to walk away from the t.v. a bit more for playtime.)
Come November, another little guy will join our team. Games will be punctuated by newborn feedings and bouncing a fussy baby around the living room. And while I have so little sense of what our lives will look like overall–what it will mean to have both a toddler and newborn around–I feel a strange sense of gratitude for the normality that football will bring to our lives.
I wonder if years from now, when our boys are grown and looking back on their childhoods, if they will remember college football Saturdays with the same fondness with which I remember watching the Braves on TBS with my parents.
I know some people roll their eyes at the crazy hoopla and enthusiasm that surrounds college football these days, but I love it all: the hype and the trash talk and the excuse to eat, drink, and play. I am so grateful for the fun, food, community, and routine it brings to our lives this time of year.
So, cheers to tailgates and corn hole and burgers on the grill. Cheers to rivalries and fight songs and controversial rankings. Cheers to bad calls and great catches and the play of the game.
And of course, as always, Go Gators.