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  • Writer's pictureEric Knabel

Thoughts From Six Feet Away: A Tale of Two Turkeys

What is the difference between a politician and a flying pig? The letter ‘f.’ Similarly, the only difference between ‘feasting’ and ‘fasting’ is the letter ‘e.’

I hope everyone has recovered from their dietary engorgements from the past week. It is my hope that it was a time to enjoy family without fisticuffs, courtesy of politics or religion. As for me, it was a great time with family, and our meal came off with minimal chaos. Football was on but largely ignored, the mark of any good social function. While my holiday was great, I never presume that my experience is everyone’s, so for some of you, I pray you got through it without having to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.

I also hope that you are thankful, which was the whole point of the past week. It’s a time to not dwell on the things that we aren’t, for the sake of celebrating all that we are. Maybe our football team isn’t having a winning season. And maybe we don’t live in the biggest house or drive the nicest car. And despite all the things wrong in our country, we still live in a place of abundance, and while the odds can be stacked against us sometimes, anything is possible. I’ve never been one to bash America like some do, but if I had one wish, it would be that the concept of ‘more’ could be replaced with one of ‘enough.’ And while I’m at it, I’d love to return to a time where compromise was seen as a strength, rather than a character flaw.

We have so many blessings if we divert our focus, if only momentarily. Most of us enjoy good health, and those of us who don’t have been blessed to live in a time where we can live longer with chronic conditions than we ever have before. Most of us have roofs over our heads. We may not like our jobs, but it does provide us with a source of income to see to our needs. We have friends and companions who make our lives meaningful. We have families who love us, even when we sometimes don’t necessarily feel worthy of that support.

My joy and thankfulness peaked somewhere early Saturday afternoon, when I encountered the inedible kind of turkey. My son has been in the IU Marching Hundred this year, and my daughter hadn’t seen him play all year, so the only opportunity to see him was to make the trek to Lafayette for the annual Oaken Bucket Game with Purdue, our archrival. I can take some good-natured ribbing with the rest of them, but nothing prepared me for what I encountered. First, the sheer amount of alcohol consumption was overwhelming, for both fanbases. What started as an opportunity to enjoy watching my son do what he loves most, became a chorus of bad behavior on both sides, fueled by alcohol and centered on the team we followed. Grown adults were taunting my son, and as I left the stadium, one paragon of humanity in a camouflage jacket looked at my IU gear and stated, “You have shit on your shirt.” It was an uncomfortable ending to a rather outstanding week.  I do find myself wondering why we need alcohol to have a good time, and what is it about sports that turns us into raving lunatics? It’s a fascinating study in psychology of the masses, rendered even more tragic by the fact that among these crass individuals were doctors, lawyers, parents, and leaders of their communities. I don’t mean to come across as sanctimonious, but clearly, we cross lines in our fandom. At least I had one thing to be thankful for after leaving West Lafayette – I never have to go back voluntarily.

It is my hope that the upcoming Christmas holiday is not causing you any undue stress. Why do we put so much pressure on holidays meant to promote happiness? It’s an odd paradox, and maybe it’s related to the ‘more’ versus ‘enough’ concept I mentioned earlier. May you focus on what’s important this holiday season. Be excellent to each other, and….

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