Did you hear the Top Story? The Green Bay Packers are going to the Super Bowl! It's all over the news, the radio, the newspaper, the internet. It's all the local media talks about here, there's absolutely nothing else of importance going on, even the blizzard didn't elicit much response really, except to say how it may affect the Pack and their travel plans to Texas. You see banners plastered on store signs, marquees, people's yards:
Go, Pack, GO!
Yes. Please do. And keep right on going.
I have to make a confession:
I don't like football.
We live less than twenty miles from Lambeau Field and the Packer Hall of Fame in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I have never watched a football game for more than five minutes. In 52 years.
And I don't like the Green Bay Packers.
At all. Not even one little bit. Nada. Zip. Zero.
That's a dangerous statement to make here in Packer Country. In fact, I think I can hear the angry cheese-headed villagers approaching right now with their flaming torches and pitchforks, ready to do me great bodily harm for even typing such a sacrilegious statement. It's a good thing I didn't say it out loud. Shhhhhhhhhh............don't tell anyone.
But it's true. I dislike football with a Passion (yes, with a capital P). Super Bowl Sunday (the Stupid Bowl) is coming up quickly, but not fast enough for me. I am so sick of hearing about it, can we just get it over with already? This makes pre-Christmas hype look like Flag Day. Even Jimmy The Groundhog (the Wisconsin Version of Punxatawney Pete) was 'heard' to say we'd have an early spring AND the Packers are going to win on Sunday. Oh, brother.
I know what my deep-seated problem with the Packers is. I don't need a shrink to put me on the couch and ask me to look at ink blots. This goes way back to a galaxy far, far, away.........my childhood---
When I was a kid on the farm, Sunday was a Special Day. I wrote a post last year, entitled "My Mother's Sunday, A Day of Rest" which lightly outlined my mother's daily life at the time, so this is a bit of a rerun, but here goes. In a nutshell, Mom's routine was to get up at 5AM, climb up the 40' tall silo and throw down a day's worth of silage (and in the winter, she had to use a lantern to see and a pickax to chop the frozen feed) load up the wheelbarrow with the silage, feed the cows, scrape the alley and each cow's stall, haul two pails of steaming hot water from the basement of the house to the barn, rinse the milking machines, set up the milk cans and milk strainer, fire up the milker pump, wipe down and wash each cow's udder and teats and put the milkers on.
When the first cow was done milking, it was time to move to the next one. While the second cow was being milked by the milking machine, she and my father sat down with their little wooden stools and a pail and hand-stripped each cow out to make sure they were really dry. This was something my father insisted on as he had grown up milking cows by hand as a kid and though the automatic milking machine was a great invention, he didn't trust any machine to know when a cow was really milked out. So, each cow (around 30 at our highest head count) was 'stripped' out by hand twice a day. Mom's cows were on the south side of the barn and Dad's cows were on the north side.
Milking took a good hour if everything went well, and that's not counting the other morning chores of feeding the calves or the cows or cleaning up; just the milking. And things didn't always go well, either. Cows are unpredictable and have good days and bad days just like people; sometimes they get sick of being milked and kick the milker off or step on the air hoses or refuse to let their milk down. All sorts of things can go wrong. Mom had church to attend on Sunday morning, so she tried extra-hard to get the chores done as quickly as possible so she and I could make late church.
She'd hustle to the house by 7:30AM and make a big breakfast; eggs and bacon, toast, grapefruit, cheese and Corn Flakes with a banana. After eating breakfast, she'd stack the breakfast dishes and go out to the milk house with yet another two pails of hot water from the basement and wash the milking machines and pails, which was a big job. As soon as she was done with washing up, she'd come in the house and freshen up for church and we'd get the old 1964 Buick Special out of the garage and head for church.
While we were gone to church, Dad would be cleaning the barn by hand. I usually got home from church in time to get out of my Sunday best and help him finish up by putting down fresh bedding. If it was winter, I would have thrown down the hay for the weekend on Saturday morning and had it stacked in front of the cows for easy access. We had a set routine we followed depending on the season. While I was helping Dad finish barn cleaning, Mom was in the house making a big Sunday dinner; either roast beef, chicken or pork, with mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and a homemade dessert and fresh-baked loaf of bread.
I also have to admit that I was spoiled and not expected to milk cows in the morning. My brother, who was thirteen years older than me, did milk cows before going to school, but this was before my time. Probably because of the big age gap between us and the fact that there was six years at least after I was born before I was of any use on the farm at all, Mom and Dad got used to milking alone in the mornings after my brother went into the Army. When I was old enough to go to school, Dad decreed that I should stay in the house and not come out to the barn in the morning, I think because he didn't want me to 'smell like a farmer' in school and get picked on. Back in the day, we only took a bath on Saturday night, and looking back, I am amazed now. I did go through a painstaking ritual of washing up in the sink every day that probably took as much time as a full bath, but to take a bath in mid-week was unheard of in our house. Bath night was Saturday. And don't run too much water or you'll run the well dry. The cows need to drink!
Sunday was my Mother's day of rest, so to speak, because we didn't do any work on the farm on Sunday that wasn't absolutely necessary. Feeding, cleaning up after and milking cows was an absolute necessity, and non-negotiable, but what I'm talking about is the other farm maintenance and field work, baling hay, chopping corn, etc. dependent on the season.....we didn't work on Sunday unless the weather was so bad that the only day we could get the hay baled or other crops harvested was on Sunday. For the most part, Sunday afternoon was free time.
My dad would read the Sunday paper after our big Sunday dinner and Mom and I would start in on the stack of breakfast and dinner dishes. As soon as the dishes were done, Mom and I had another arrangement ( and remember this is her only afternoon of free time) as soon as we were done in the kitchen, my mom would play with me. By the time the dishes were done, it was usually around 2PM, but that's ok, because we didn't have to eat supper until 5PM and we didn't need to be back out to the barn until 5:30....and on Sunday supper was usually rather light, so Mom didn't have a THING to do between 2PM and 4:30PM except play games with me.
And play we did. Hide and seek. Wading in the creek. Baseball (I stood on the barn hill, and Mom threw the baseball. If I missed the ball, it rolled back down the hill to my mother; if I hit the ball, I would run and get it and give it back to her so she could pitch for me again. Croquet. Sometimes Dad joined in with croquet, but not very often. He wasn't too fond of us playing on Sunday, he'd rather not sit in the house alone, but he did sometimes nap during the day. (Mom was 38 when I was born, and by the time I was 9 she was 47. Looking back, I just don't know how she did it. Where did she find the energy? And no wonder Dad didn't want to play hide and seek on his one afternoon of rest, he was 54 years old when I was 9!) In the wintertime, we'd play cards (as long as we weren't too loud and didn't annoy Dad) or Mom would come out and go sledding down the barn hill with me.
I loved our Sundays together, they were my favorite time. Even if my friend who lived up the road wanted me to come over or me to visit her, it was never on Sunday. That day was set aside for me and Mom.
However, though I wished for it fervently, not every Sunday worked out that way. There were the Sundays when Mom and Dad visited their good friends, Bert & Bea, either at our house or at their house. Bert & Bea lived in far away, exotic Denmark. (Not the country of Denmark, the city in Wisconsin, but it seemed like it was a world away from our farm at forty miles! For us, back in the day, that was a long drive. If we left at 1PM we would get to Bert & Bea's house by 2PM. They would play Sheepshead (me too, I had to learn to play at a very early age, and I wasn't fond of playing cards with the grownups but they needed a fifth person to play five-handed partners) until 4PM and we'd have to get going for home and chores once again.
Usually Bert & Bea took up maybe six Sundays a year of precious Mom & Me time. I used to grumble when I heard we were going to visit them or they were going to visit us, but I got over it. I knew Mom enjoyed those days very much. And I knew we had to work on Sunday if it was a wet harvest season, that's a given.
But there was one season I loathed beyond any other:
The Green Bay Packers interrupted Mom & Me Time.
I hated them.
My mom is a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan. She loved to watch the game and (rightly so) set aside her Sunday afternoons to watch when they played. My father was not a fan at all, and used to grouse about her watching it, but tolerated the TV being on. He watched most of the games with his eyes shut, snoozing in his recliner.
I whined and wheedled, cajoled and pestered, "Please come and play with me, Mom...puhleeeeeeezzzz.........?" and she'd always say, "I will, just as soon as the game is over."
"How long is the game going to go on?" I'd ask.
"They only have five minutes to play in the quarter, so go outside and get started, and I'll be right out."
So, dummy me, I'd go outside and get the sleds out or the ice skates (Mom used to go with me to the creek and stand around holding a broom and watch me skate) or start building a snowman or whatever nonsense I was interested in at the time (Gee, I wonder why she wasn't in a big hurry to see the football game end?) and five, ten, twenty minutes would go by and no Mom.
Back to the house I'd traipse, and the game would still be blaring on the TV. "Mom, I've got everything set up, are you coming outside?"
"Oh, go, go, go......RUN........oh, TOUCHDOWN! Yippeee!!! Oh, good for them!!! What's that? Oh, yes, Karen, the game is almost over, just go and play and I'll be there real soon. They only have three minutes to play."
I'd sit down at the kitchen table with all my winter garb on, and start to sweat. I never knew three minutes could take SO long! All those stupid time-outs. And say what?? This is only the THIRD quarter? And there's FOUR of them??
I'd grouse and then Dad would wake up and yell at me, "You're really annoying, anybody ever tell you that? If your ma wants to watch the game, then leave her alone and get outside. What do you need her for anyway? Go play!"
I got SO mad at the Packers. I used to go outside and kick the snow around in a snit because they were keeping my mom from playing with me. I was so jealous, truly green-eyed over the Green & Gold. And what a stupid game....chasing a pigskin around in circles and jumping on each other and high-fiving and spiking the ball after a touch down, acting like they were Big Heroes and just won a World War or saved a ship from sinking or a family from a burning house or something. Grown men wearing tights. And slapping each other on the behinds. And getting paid ridiculous salaries, money my folks would never earn in a hundred lifetimes of milking cows. For chasing a ball around?
I knew it meant a lot to my Mom to watch the Packer game, so as I grew up, I learned to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes if the game got over with before 4PM, she'd get outside long enough to sled down the barn hill once or twice but most Game Sundays, she didn't. By the time the game was over, it was time to make supper and get ready to go back out to milk cows. Mom & Me Sunday was preempted for Green Bay Packer Football.
Looking back on it, yup, I was spoiled. I know it. I was lucky she played with me at all...nobody else's mothers set aside two hours on Sunday to play exclusively with their kids. Now I wish I could give Mom every one of those games back without nagging interruption from juvenile me, but I can't. (Sorry, Mom. She still watches them at every opportunity, at age 90, she's a true fan!)
Carl and I met when we were fourteen years old and that put an end to Mom & Me Sundays. I spent all my Sundays with Carl, who, by the way, is NOT a Packer/Sports fan at all, either. Just another big ol' reason I love my dear husband so very much. Arggghhh, if he sat in front of the tube and watched football/baseball/golf/tennis/what-have-you non-stop, I'd go stark raving mad. Of our two sons, Joel used to go to my mom's to watch the game, but he never became a huge fan of it, and Dave isn't either. (We always said we won't allow the game to be viewed in our home which earns us plenty of looks of derision from fans and is only partially true, a guest can watch the game if they want to, but they'll be alone in our living room.) Joel might watch snippets of it here and there, but it doesn't consume him.
I guess I never will get over my grudge. Even going into stores on Sundays and having the dumb game piped in over the intercom so all of us lucky shoppers can hear what's going on makes my blood pressure go up. I want to yell, "Who cares? It's a game, people; a game, not life and death. Please, more elevator music."
Maybe I do need to see a shrink. I'm probably suffering from APMS (Anti-Packer Mania Syndrome) and now, being menopausal, the syndrome is worsening. And, if the Pack wins on Sunday, we will be certain to steer clear of Green Bay, for there will be many inebriated fans (Wisconsin leads the Nation in Binge Drinking, YEAH!!) running hog wild in the streets wearing little more than their cheeseheads. Everybody loves a Winner. Except me. The Ogre.
So, there............... I said it.
Go, Pack, Go.
I better beef up the security around here....I wonder how many villagers I can expect?