Gimme a Smile: Fall equals football

For me this year, fall equals football.

By Peggy McKee Barnhill

I’ve always thought of myself as a baseball fan, but for me this year, fall equals football. Maybe it’s because baseball got a slow start this year but football stuck to a regular season, maybe it’s because the Pittsburgh Pirates were dismal but the Steelers are shining, or maybe it’s just a weird upside-down year when baseball buffs morph into football fans.

Or maybe it has something to do with the vocabulary…

I wrote down a list of words associated with football, many of which can be used to describe other aspects of fall. Six points if you catch them all!

As we head into the fall season, the weather gets chilly and it feels easier to catch a cold. Leaves fall down into drifts on our yards. We might feel inspired to tackle some chores around the house or kick off a new project at work. As darkness comes earlier, we retreat to the safety of our homes, where we await the Halloween trick-or-treaters.

Halloween will look different this year, alas. You’re unlikely to see a little princess or a pint-sized knight in a helmet holding out a sack to receive a fistful of candy this year. Even if the kids have to pass on trick-or-treating for the first time, we hope they’ll be back next year.

On the third day after Halloween, the presidential election comes to a close. Some voters look for a turnover of the White House, while others hope the current president has another four-year run. I think most of us hope there’s no need to bring out the special teams to investigate election interference. The goal is for a clean, decisive result. Nobody wants to see the election go into overtime!

This fall in particular is also a good opportunity to go to church. It’s easy to take time out of your Sunday morning to get to church on time when the service is virtual. No need to sneak in the back during the first hymn. You don’t have to fumble in your pocket for a coin to throw into the collection plate. You might even manage to mute your computer and listen to the football game on TV without interrupting the Hail Mary prayer. Don’t worry, the pastor won’t keep score over this mild offense.

When it’s not raining, it’s fun to play outside in the fall. Just be careful. Be sure to stop for a second to check your surroundings. You don’t want to intercept a bear preparing to den up for the winter. If you get between a mama bear and her cubs, she might rush you in defense of her little ones. Be ready to scamper to safety, but avoid contact and don’t run. That’s what the kids learn in fourth grade.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my silly word game with terms related to football. Maybe it will cause you to convert to being a football fan like me.

Note: By my count there are forty football-related words in this essay, not counting the word “football,” nor the words I shamelessly used twice. Collect them all!

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother, and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life.

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