Posted in Life Lessons, Super Bowl Sunday

It’s Super Bowl Sunday!!

Yes, I know, I hear you, “Thank you, Captain Obvious”.

I just have to say today has been a day full of memories for me. For whatever reason, specific events tend to be tied to specific memories…and today has certainly been one of those for me. The Super Bowl might be the most food-oriented event of the entire year. At least in America, that is. Even as a kid, I remember setting out a blanket on the living room floor each year and creating our own indoor picnic. It was the one night of the year we got to eat whatever food we wanted in the living room…that’s a big deal. I remember surrounding myself with bowls of cheese doodles, Ruffles potato chips (with ridges), and my favorite dip (you know the delicious one with the Lipton Onion soup mix combined with sour cream…mmmmm!). My brother and I even got to do something we never, and I mean NEVER, got to do on a Sunday night…drink soda. (That was only reserved for Friday nights and family parties.) Needless to say, the Super Bowl was the one (and I mean ONE) night of the year when I actually looked forward to football coming on TV.

I started thinking back over Super Bowl Sundays of the past few years today, and to my surprise I’m able to consciously remember where I was and how I celebrated each and every one. Granted, I’m sure the fact that it’s on a Sunday night helps. I remember fondly my Super Bowl Sundays at Villanova…see, I played violin at 8 PM mass, and no, Jesus doesn’t stop just for a football game, so each year I started the festivities with my friends and floormates before making the trek across campus (or next-door sophomore year) to an unbelievably empty church. By the time mass was over at 9, it was usually pretty clear who the winner would be…and I’d missed a majority of the commercials…but I’d join back in the fun anyway. I have to say, without a doubt, those 4 SuperBowl nights spent in church are still among my favorite masses I’ve ever played for…or attended for that matter. My years in ACE were spent gathered around the TV for a rare night in which all of us actually ventured down from our various corners of the house to watch the same thing. And in the years since arriving in Baltimore, I’ve spent each Super Bowl Sunday with some combination of the “saints in street clothes” who were my lifeline during my initial days here. And what did all of those nights have in common?? FOOD. Inordinate amounts of delicious food.

Of course, for most of those nights I was free to eat anything and everything my little heart desired. If only I could turn back time and savor those nights… I remember my first Super Bowl Sunday in Baltimore was in the midst of my mystery illness. Just weeks before, it had been suggested by my doctor that I try this “gluten-free” diet and see if it helped. So as I trudged to my friend’s apartment with my bags of potato skins, nacho fixings, and Woodchuck Cider, I remember telling myself that this gluten-free thing wouldn’t be so hard. Of course, I know now that I had no idea what I was doing: at the time my assumption was no wheat ingredient listed, I’m good to go. Present-day Katie just shakes her head at poor, naive 2011 Katie. I cooked on baking sheets full of gluten residue, I used bacon that certainly wasn’t gluten-free, and the cross-contamination on that table I can’t even begin to imagine. Well, if I needed any confirmation that my doctor was correct, I remember leaving my friend’s house that night feeling so sick I almost stopped halfway through my walk home to curl up on the Safeway bathroom floor…yet still, I was skeptical about my doctor’s suspicions. Denial, denial, denial…it IS more than a river in Egypt.

Thankfully, by SuperBowl 2012, I had adjusted to my new lifestyle, and my fantastic group of friends had graciously adapted to gatherings with me…keeping gluten-filled treats on one side of the table, not sharing spoons, knives, etc….and I enjoyed a SuperBowl feast in health and happiness. The same held true last year. So what about this year? SuperBowl 2014… gone are my traditional nachos (corn and cheese), my delicious sour-cream based dip (who knew I used so much dairy??), even my gluten-free crackers and cheese plate is a thing of the past (soy and…yep, milk). And I was assigned to work the 3-11 shift tonight at the hospital! Not shaping up to be the best evening, right? I certainly didn’t think so.

But, as usual, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because here I sit surrounded by delicious food: Old Bay baked chicken wings, snap peas with hummus, Beanitos White Bean “faux tortilla” chips and guacamole, and a can of root beer (cane sugar sweetened, don’t worry). And I’ve made two new friends who have gathered with me in the great room for a fun-filled evening of commercial-analysis. No, I don’t really understand football so I’ve been typing this during the game and I stop for the commercial breaks. I know, Notre Dame friends, shake your heads, it’s OK. Just remember I didn’t go there for undergrad. The first football game I ever attended was freshman year of college…and let’s just say at the time, Villanova football left a lot to be desired.

A Katie-Safe SuperBowl spread…

So here I am, on another Super Bowl Sunday, learning life lessons once again:

  1. I learned what a “safety” is…and that someone can in fact be winning a football game by a score of 2-0…who knew??
  2. I’ve learned that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the growth of technology and the creative spirit…because these commercials are not what they used to be  
  3. I’ve learned that despite new limitations, with a little bit of planning, I can still enjoy every event…even those based primarily on food
  4. Most importantly, I’ve learned that every day, night, minute, and second are worth celebrating. See, these 2 lovely new friends of mine returned home from the hospital tonight with news that their family member lost her cancer battle today. Tomorrow they’ll be making arrangements and taking her home…but for tonight, they told me they’re going to enjoy the game in her honor…because that’s what she would have wanted.

So as they sit with their haphazard meal of crackers, soup, and wine in plastic cups and I sit with my array of Katie-safe treats, I know this will be a Super Bowl Sunday I’ll never forget. Because this year I was reminded what Super Bowl Sunday is all about: enjoying time with people around you, treating yourself to all the delicious “you-safe” foods you can stomach, laughing at great commercials (or at least attempts at great), and staying up later than you should on a Sunday night.

Because field goal kicks and 4th-down attempts are sometimes short…and so is life…

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