I am a Chicago girl, born on the near West Side. Raised in the city, riding the El, shopping at Marshall Field's. You need to understand this because this Sunday is a BIG day for Chicagoans. It's one of those days that only come along (for us, anyway) a few times in a lifetime (if we're lucky). Of course I'm talking about the Bears playing in the Superbowl. The last time I cared about the Superbowl was in 1985 when the Bears last were invited to the dance.
I was much younger then. With little kids. Working part-time, volunteering part-time, mothering full-time. A life VERY different from what it is today. Every Sunday since I married RW I hated the Sundays between August and January. The kids were mine, all mine, ALL day. RW was busy watching football. Not just the Bears, no, but every FREAKIN' team that was named after an animal, a mascot or an aberration (Steelers?). What should have been family time was just another day with the kids. And with one TV! Great! Cold weather, the kids can't go outside and nothing but football every waking moment. But then something happened. The Bears made the playoffs. Everyone was talking about the "Dream Team". I heard about people called things like the "Punky QB" and the "Fridge". The radio stations played the "Superbowl Shuffle" on every channel, every 10 minutes. I kind of felt left out of conversations because I didn't know what they were talking about. So I made the decision to learn about football. I got out the old Funk and Wagnell's and taught myself about the game. And then I watched one.
RW wasn't especially happy to be interrupted every 2 minutes while I asked him questions about first downs or penalties, but eventually I sort of got it. And then I got excited, too. The playoffs came and the Bears won the NFC Championship. I found myself feeling like they were MY Bears. I belonged!! Then, the '85 Superbowl. Not much of a game, really, it was so lopsided, but it had its moments: Walter, running for yardage, Refrigerator Perry leaping over a mountain of men to score a touchdown. It was like Halley's comet. Rarely seen, but awe-inspiring.
It's been many years since I last watched football. Okay, I confess, I am a fair-weather fan. But here I am again feeling that sense of growing excitement, that rising expectation. Today I stopped on the way home from work and bought a Bears Superbowl sweatshirt. It's time to belong again.
When I watch the game Sunday I'll be with extended family and friends. A family that's grown another generation since the last Bears Superbowl. I'll be watching the game, but probably I'll also be spending a lot of time playing with my granddaughter, watching the little ones run around in a sugar-fueled frenzy, yelling at the TV and trying to find my beer. I'll be be eating too much food that isn't good for me, much less anyone else (how many fat grams are in nacho dip?)
We don't always have the chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Oh, I know there's things like religion, politics or world peace, but those are kind of boring (oh, come on, you know they are). It's way more fun to be part of this group: Bear fans.
In conclusion, may I just say: