Friday, November 28, 2008

American Holidays: Football and Thanksgiving at Loring

Traditions are an important thing at a place like the American School. And one of the major traditions of the year seems to be Thanksgiving dinner. There’s something about being away from home that makes one really, really appreciate those sentimental holidays even more so than usual. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so touched by the Fourth of July until I spent it in Greece the summer after Sept. 11th: never was ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ sung with such fervor. This year, there was a great deal of excitement leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, I found myself doing little tap dances inside whenever I thought about the approaching turkey.

Most of all, though, was the little electrical currents tingling about in anticipation of, you guessed it, football. The dudes kept talking longingly of the NFL (three games!) and how we could swing some Pay-per-view to watch it live overseas. But it wasn’t just the watching of the football that we were looking forward to, but the playing of it. Weeks in advance the Thanksgiving Day game was planned, with intrepid Associate Members exploring the wilds of Greek sporting goods stores in search of the elusive, cherished, and mythical American football. (One was discovered, at the cost of 34 euros. Ouch.)

Luckily, Sherry Fox’s sons had one that we could borrow, so the horde moved out just after noon on Thursday towards the one open space in Kolonaki. Alas, it was already occupied by a soccer game – this resulted in us playing (a little nervously) in an empty lot next to the US Embassy. Here are some highlights:

Hut hut hike. That’s me in the red sweat band.

The girls were team captains. That was a nice change – I seem to recall always getting picked last in elementary school.

Fortunately, there were two girls playing, so I wasn’t totally clobbered by the guys. Of course, witness here the stiff arm I’m receiving from Christina Gieske. Actually, please notice how this is the most awesome action shot ever taken (click to enlarge). Nathan Harper (in the green) is at full tilt, while Sean Jensen sprints toward the action. Note especially Denver Graninger’s enthusiastic pose behind us, with the dedicated exertion of the other players.

And speaking of enthusiastic action, here’s a Hail Mary.
Sean Jenson QBs. He actually played college ball at one time in the past, evident in his spectacular form.

It was a totally awesome two hours. It also resulted in some very sore and cranky people wandering around Loring Hall today, people who thought they were still fit and young but now realize that they’re not 18 anymore.

The main event for Thanksgiving here is, of course, the food. The entire School is invited to attend dinner, and this year 98 people decided to show up in their holiday best. We had ten tables, but rumor has it there were 17 turkeys. The event was organized by Shari and Jack Davis, who did a really fantastic job and ensured that I sat at the table with not only John Cherry but Sir John Boardman as well.

My table, with John Cherry and John Boardman at the end; alas, just a little too far down the table for me to be able to talk to either of them over stuffing.
The day was seriously full of food, since dinner (at 3:30) sort of bled into a party in the Saloni with three different series of baked goods made by my football nemesis Christina. Unfortunately there was no NFL to be had, but just to make everyone feel better, a college game from last week went up on the big screen. Then there was a dance party.

So Thanksgiving revolved around overindulging and an overdose of social interaction, which is just as it should be. As Tom Garvey notes, the night devolved into three groups of people: one singing folk songs on the porch, one dancing to ‘Rump Shaker’ in the Saloni, and the last group standing in the kitchen, STILL eating.

And thus ended my first Thanksgiving at the School. Good thing there's a pig roast scheduled for today, to ensure that the fun continues.

1 comment:

Maria P. said...

Glad you enjoyed your day so much. I loved the football pics.. I kept wondering WHERE exactly you played football at the Embassy, now I know.