By Emily Chase
Every New Year’s Day, my father and my three older brothers SuperGlued themselves to the couch in order to watch football for eight or ten hours straight. They’d tune in to the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Gator Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, one after another all through the afternoon and into the evening with only brief time-outs to reach for the chips bowl. I didn’t share their passion for pigskin but I could get excited about the occasional touchdown.
My mother had even less interest in football yet she always looked forward to this sports marathon. An hour before game time, she would retrieve all the family silver and pile it at one end of the couch. Serving dishes, flatware, vases, teapots and trays were all about to get their annual polishing. On the coffee table in front of the couch, she’d set out the polish, a plastic basin filled with warm soapy water, and a pile of soft rags.
As soon as the words “O’er the land of the free”faded and before the team captains could flip a coin, my mother was already putting items of silver in play. One of my brothers would apply the polish and pass it down field to the next who then tackled the tarnish that had accumulated since the preceding season. When the game on the TV was at a fever pitch, that silver bowl or plate in their hands received an extra vigorous rubbing. Throughout the rest of the year, the bright gloss would remind us of highlights in those January games.
When a piece gleamed, brother #2 tossed it to brother #3 who nimbly completed the pass, rinsed the piece and dried it before handing it off to my father in the end zone where he set it on the table. By the time commentators were finishing the post-game wrap-up, every piece of silver sparkled at the far end of the couch. The actual scores of those bowl games were soon forgotten, but we all knew my mother won every year.
Only one time did my mother vary the routine. Because she had invited a group of friends over for a party that night, instead of passing silver down the assembly line, she set the men to making canapés with crackers, cheese, paté and other toppings. Never again. There were too many fumbles. With their eyes glued to the television, the men paid no attention to the combinations they were creating. A piece of salami might perform a Hail Mary with the help of an olive, but sardines sometimes landed in peanut butter, outside the boundaries of legal play. Mom red flagged those plays. She soon recognized another disadvantage to this new system. With silver, every piece made it from one end of the couch to the other, but Mom discovered that a large portion of the decorated crackers were incomplete passes, consumed long before they reached the end zone.
The next year? My mother went back to having the men polish silver. After all, if the sports teams can sing the same national anthem year after year, why should she break with tradition?
“[The Lord] made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.” (Isaiah 49:2b, NIV)