She and her two teenage boys had been looking forward to playoff weekend all week. But a basketball game that had been cancelled earlier in the season had been rescheduled for Saturday evening, taking her younger son out of town. Then at the last minute, a friend invited her older son to go skiing. "Do you mind, Mom?" he asked her. What could she say? After wishing for skis of his own for two year, he'd finally gotten new skis (and used boots) for his birthday in November but until now hadn't had a chance to use them. It was an invitation for the first ski trip of the season. How could she say what she was thinking, "Yes, I mind. Don't go skiing. Don't grow up. Don't leave me." Instead she smiled and said, "You should go. We can watch tomorrow's games together." She could see the relief on his face as he hurried to get ready. A little while later she watched him load his skis into the family van and drive away. Her twelve-year-old daughter was at a friend's birthday party until 8:30, and her husband never cared much about watching football, so she watched alone. Even though she'd grown up in Steeler country, and this was a big game for the Steelers and their rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, she realized, suddenly, that what she liked the most about watching football was watching it with her boys.
The Steelers ended up winning that game (but lost to the Patriots the next weekend), and my boys and I ended up watching the next day's (and the next week's) playoff games together. In fact, we've watched a lot of football games together since that night. But also since that night, my boys have grown up and moved out, as I knew one day they would. So tonight when I'm watching the Super Bowl alone, I'll be missing them. But I'll be glad that they taught me to watch football, and I'll be glad they are happily watching the game with friends, and I'll be glad for all the good memories I have to keep me warm on this snowy Super Bowl Sunday.