When I read the date on the e-mail my younger brother sent me, it never occurred to me that there would be any sort of conflict. He was unable to come over to our house over the holidays, what with all the various and sundry commitments on both sides of the equation, it wasn't until the past Sunday that we were all able to get together. This past Sunday. Wild Card Sunday.
Those words didn't mean much to me when I was coordinating my weekend. Then the football part of my brain looked at it a couple hours later. Wild Card Weekend. Denver Broncos are playing on Sunday. The reason for this disjoint is obvious to those of you who have followed the recent events here in Entropical Paradise: My younger brother and football do not mix. How to reconcile these disparate events? I love my brother and look forward to each and every visit, but I was fairly certain that I could not simply play off the playoffs. I sent him another e-mail, explaining my foul limitations and told him that I understood if he wanted to find any other time to drop by to finish off our holiday connection.
Besides caring little or nothing about organized sports, my younger brother is a very good sport. He came anyway. We began the day by sampling/inhaling the snack mix that he brought with him as he, as has become his custom, read a short story to us as we munched. Then the game came on, and out of respect, I kept the volume low. While we carried on our pleasantries and began our gift exchange, the underdog Denver Broncos pulled into a lead in the first two quarters. My family, younger brother included, were pleased, but were not nearly as apprehensive as I was. I returned to the spot on my living room floor where I have, historically, paced while the Broncos played. Everyone else in the room, our dog included, continued to talk and play and interact as if there was something else going on in the room, but were polite not to notice outwardly my mounting tension.
At halftime, there was a flurry of Guitar Hero, this time enjoyed by my son and his uncle as I busied myself about the kitchen and living room, straightening as I went. When the second half started, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a rally and by the end of regulation, had tied the game. My family rallied to my aid, as good families will, and became Denver Broncos super-fans right alongside me. Even my younger brother. When Tim Tebow sailed his pass into the Rocky Mountain night and Demarius Thomas hauled it in and took it in for a touchdown to end the overtime period in just eleven seconds, I wasn't in the room. I heard my family cheer from the living room while I stomped about the kitchen, preparing myself mentally for yet another stress-filled period. I rushed back to the television and watched the replay. It was over. The Broncos had won, and we all celebrated. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Wonder Wild Card.
When I drove my brother home that night, we agreed that it was a very good thing that the Broncos had won, since the whole afternoon could have been obscured by a loss. It was a gift. I got to share my world with my brother, and we had a good time. That's the gift of family. Don't bet against them.