Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Amy's Essay

Amy is taking a writing class at Linn-Benton Community College, and one of her assignments was to write about a family tradition. This was the result, and I wanted to share it with you even though it's lengthy because in my utterly unbiased opinion I thought it was wonderful.

Family, Football, and Fathers
Five years ago, my dad, who is a pastor, received a monetary gift from an anonymous church member. Knowing his children’s love for sports, especially Oregon Duck football, he decided to use the money to take any of his children who wanted to go to a game. Every year since then, we have selected one game every fall to attend. It has become a tradition, something that we look forward to each year as soon as the first hints of fall and football season come into view. Through the experience of interacting with each other, celebrating and sighing together as our team pulls ahead or falls behind, and making fun memories, we draw closer together as a family.
The long-awaited day begins with the newspaper. Ben, age 12, has been up for hours and has almost memorized the sports section, so he reluctantly relinquishes it to me when I finally make my way downstairs. I scan through it, discussing it with Ben as I go. We talk about the Ducks’ chances, what the odds-makers are saying, and the opposing team’s outstanding linebacker.
When we are done perusing our newspaper, we drift away to other things. Ben, sequestered in his room, listens to sports talk and checks up on other games on the radio. I eat breakfast and then curl up with a good book. The game doesn’t start until 4:00 p.m., so we have plenty of time to kill.
Finally it’s 2:00, and we all head out the door. We are a smaller group than some other years. Matt has decided that he’s too old for this. Emily is sick and can’t make it. Jenny is too young to enjoy it, and Mom isn’t really into football, so they stay home, as usual. That makes four from our family: Me, Ben, Dad, and Steven. Although he’s almost 11, Steven has been part of our family for only ten months, and we are looking forward to introducing him to his first football game.
After a 40-minute drive through traffic decorated with green-and-yellow flags and stickers, we reach our destination: the parking lot where fans can park free. The only drawback is that we have a fifteen-minute walk ahead of us, but it’s part of our tradition, so we don’t really care. We follow the crowds over a footbridge, through a park, down the sidewalk, and suddenly there is the stadium, looming huge and dark ahead of us.
My first glimpse of the inside of the stadium always astounds me. We walk through a short tunnel, and suddenly we are part of the huge, bustling scene. Thousands and thousands of fans line the sides of the bowl-shaped stadium. People find their seats, settle in, or go off to find some food. On the field, the players go through their drills. It’s not raining, and the air is full of excitement: it’s going to be a great day.
The game starts, and Ben and I are completely immersed in the action. When the team falls behind, we both sit tense, fists clenched in our laps, pleading with them to come back. When they score, we leap simultaneously to our feet, clapping, screaming at the top of our lungs, and jumping up and down. We pause to high-five each other, and then start screaming again.
Steven claps and cheers too, though he seems a little lost. He is excited because we are excited, but he doesn’t quite understand what is going on. Nonetheless, he is making the most of this opportunity, and enjoying himself.
In the midst of all the excitement, my dad sits motionless. He only stands when the national anthem is played, and never cheers or yells. To watch him, you would think that he didn’t even care about the game being played out in front of him.
To a certain extent, that is the case.
In the state of Oregon, where we’ve lived for the past ten years, there are two major college football teams: the U of O Ducks and the OSU Beavers. Nearly every sports fan in the state likes one or the other of the teams, but almost never both, and the rivalry between the two teams is so bitter that their annual game is aptly dubbed the "Civil War."
My siblings and I became Duck fans almost by accident. Our geographical location, the preferences of our friends, and the biased reporting of the local newspaper sealed our fate.
My dad, however, has taken the opposite position. Ever since he was young, he has supported the OSU Beavers.
The Beavers’ stadium isn’t much farther away than the Ducks’, and the tickets are about the same price. It would have made sense for Dad to just take us all to a Beaver game, especially since he was using his own money. But he didn’t.
After the game, Dad takes us all out to eat at McDonald’s. As a family of 8, even fast food gets expensive, and usually we are allowed to order only from the dollar menu, with large drinks and fries for everyone to share. This time, however, is a special treat, as Dad generously offers to buy us whatever we want.
As I bite into my grilled chicken sandwich, I glance up at my dad. He is in the middle of a discussion about whether the Ducks will win their next game, and there is a little smile on his face. It is a happy, contented smile; a smile that says he knows the true meaning of family, self-sacrifice, and loving others more than himself.


  1. Great writing, Amy! Are you, by any chance, related to that Dorcas Smucker who writes the books?!!!! Pauline

  2. This is a great article, and as a Mom you have a right to be proud. Family traditions are the glue that makes families stick together. As I read this I got a smile envisioning the scene of Stephen bouncing up and down with excitement , even though he was a bit perplexed....Good work, Amy!!!


  3. When Amy writes a book, I'll take a copy of that too. . . . :-)

  4. Amy, Very well done! I will stand in line for your first book. Your mom finally has some competition!!