It’s November 26th and there’s still no sign of Christmas at Moore’s Creek Farm. In Coastal Alabama, the trees don’t really change color to signal the final hurrah of fall. The greens lose their verdancy, the oaks their acorns, and the ground becomes littered with inky pecan husks. You are more likely to see us in flip-flops than Uggs, unless the temperature drops below seventy. Then, it’s an all out boot and sweater parade. The operative word there, of course, is sweat.
Our rite of passage into the Christmas season is the Iron Bowl, our longstanding college football rivalry tradition. Like our waistbands, the Thanksgiving leftovers have been stretched to the limits of good taste. Families gather for a few final hours of togetherness tinged by the threat of botulism as everyone pretends that Aunt Eloise’s Crimson Jell-O Salad hasn’t separated. Nerves have been stretched to the limits of good manners as ESPN Gameday has been playing on a continuous loop since dawn-thirty. It was a good thing we had the 2:30 PM kickoff slot. I’m not sure the family could have remained on speaking terms had the pressure mounted to 7PM (and we all root for the same team!).
This year it won’t be my team dashing through the SEC championship and I’m more than a little bummed. I was, after all, wearing my favorite sweatshirt and decidedly uncomfortable team underwear. Seriously. I’m gonna iron the team logo onto a decent pair of panties next year. Win or lose, at least it won’t chafe.
So, when I got up this morning, I was still wallowing in the self-pity of loss. I decided to put Thanksgiving behind me as handily as those other guys “controlled their own destiny”, according to the prognosticators’ loop reel. I pulled the ham, already battered from previous gnashing, out of the backfield of the refrigerator and proceeded to thrash it. Like my beloved team, it was pretty much defenseless against the determined onslaught. There was no stopping me. 60 minutes later, ham stock for soups, ham bits for casseroles, and ham slices for future biscuits neatly lined my deep freeze. If I were a pioneer woman, I wouldn’t have stopped there and rendered the leavings and bones into soap or something.
I still wasn’t over it all. The deep freeze needed defrosting, so I took a hatchet to it. Some tactful tapping and I tackled the job, unlike my beloved team. The underside of the freezer drawer on the fridge was iced over, too, and I laid out on the kitchen floor– hatchet in hand– to do my work. It felt good. It felt right. Now, all I needed was to get right with the Lord since I had thought (and maybe hollered) some pretty un-Christian things concerning the opposing team last night.
I dressed neatly in a houndstooth jumper, fixed my hair with a curling iron, and applied my finest crimson lipstick. I held my chin high and knelt shoulder to shoulder with folks decked out in victory colors. That’s the thing about the Iron Bowl: it’s not “a” game; it’s “THE” game. Whether we roll with the Tide or roll Toomer’s Corner, this rivalry is as much a Thanksgiving tradition as Aunt Eloise’s Jell-O Salad…which will be orange next fall.