Saturday, November 10, 2007

'Tis the season

Like children pining for Santa Claus, Trey and I eagerly await his arrival every year.

We know he'll darken our doorstep on some steamy summer day, bearing a special delivery, but we don't know exactly when. We have a pretty good idea of what's coming, but there's always the potential for surprise.

And then: oh, the joy. The doorbell rings. The package arrives. We squeal with glee, join hands and dance around the room while the muppers regard us with skepticism. They don't get it, and they won't for some time, but we know.

The season, it has begun.

It's college football season, and Dave, our mailman, capably plays the role of Santa in a faded blue suit.

In exchange for our signature and some polite banter about the weather, he hands us a large Priority Mail envelope containing about a half-dozen color-coded tickets to Texas Longhorn home games.

And it really is a bit like Christmas morning: we spend so much of the year in giddy anticipation... and then, before we know it, we're sitting in the middle of a room filled with crumpled wrapping paper, stunned that it's all over till next year.

Tonight, we opened the last present under the tree, and it was exactly what we wanted: a thrilling victory over our rivals from the west, Texas Tech.

It really couldn't have been more perfect: it was a gorgeous day, warm enough for shorts and t-shirts and sunscreen, but with a nice breeze blowing from the Hill Country. Texas in November, y'all.

Before the clock started ticking, we were treated to a flyover of Apache helicopters, a grateful Veterans Day nod to those who've served our country, and enthusiastic recognition of the seniors on and around the field.

And once the game began, there was lots of action and just enough suspense to keep things interesting until the very end.

But some of my favorite moments and memories happened, as they so often do, in the stands.

This is the sixth year Trey and I have held season tickets, with the last five years spent in the same seats. Our corner of Memorial Stadium is like a neighborhood in miniature. We might not have hand-picked the people around us, but for the most part, we respect and look out for each other.

We collectively roll our eyes at the guy who always seems to be looking for a fight. Or the two women who chatter from beginning to end about anything under the sun that's not related to football.

Or that loud-mouthed girl who yells and hoots and hollers and stands up when all around her are seated. (Hey: I am my father's daughter.)

We trade tickets to games we know we can't attend. We high-five after a big play. We ask after children and grandchildren, proudly displaying pictures when prompted. We celebrate birthdays. We share our peanuts.

And after Smokey the Cannon fires for the last time, and the Texas faithful join together to sing The Eyes of Texas, we pat each other on the back and say, "Next year. You take care, and we'll see you next year."

This year isn't really over, of course. We still have our final regularly scheduled game, and we certainly hope we'll have some postseason football to enjoy. But the last home game is always a bittersweet reflection of the year that was.

Football players linger on the field, high-fiving the fans before they finally make that walk through the tunnel and into the locker room. Cheerleaders gather on the fifty for group portraits and hugs all around. Band members hold their instruments aloft and savor their view of the stadium.

And we mentally begin the countdown till our blue-suited Santa rings the doorbell to kick off a brand-new season.

Hook 'em, Horns.


Anonymous Minivan mom said...

Those helicopters weren't so enjoyable as they did their practice runs this past week during classes. It's hard to discuss the mentally disabled when you're yelling to your classmates to be heard above the roar of loud aircraft.

I'm just saying.

Glad you guys had a fun time, and wish we could have seen you this weekend. We wouldn't the pox on our house to make its way back to Dallas via the Franklin5 minivan. Next year, we need to plan ahead and one of those home games we'll actually PLAN a get together, sans kids. Okay?

7:11 AM  
Blogger Big Mama said...

I don't need to tell you how much I'm dreading the Lone Star Showdown. It could get ugly.

But at least it will end Coach Fran's reign of terror and mediocrity.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Franklin, FOT here (Friend of Tracey), living in Austin, and Longhorns to boot. Both me AND the hubby. If you ever need to get "rid" of tickets, please let Tracey to let me know and I am almost certain that we can take them off your hands. We love going to home games and since it's in our backyard, it's easy for us : ). I'm glad ya'll had a good time. Maybe next year, we can all get together for proper tailgating. And heck, maybe one of these times that the Dallas Posse makes it back to Austin, I can meet the famous quintet....or however many there are of you- ha ha. Although it's kinda intimidating to a lone Austin girl, who isn't very social or gabby or funny. Tracey, pick yourself up off the floor.

11:49 AM  
Blogger anniemcq said...

ATTENDING a football game? My ass hurts just thinking about it. I love going to baseball games and basketball games, but football, I just. don't. get it.

And reading about football is almost as much fun as reading technical manuals to me. But you, my friend have kept me reading from beginning to end, without once having my eyes roll back in my head while my head flops backward.

7:29 PM  
Blogger life with the wisners said...

am i even allowed to leave a comment here? i mean, we're friends, right? which says a LOT! :)

so glad you had such a great time. rooting for your team.

8:39 PM  

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