Thanksgiving 2012 began like most other days for me. Our 2-year old daughter Maria was talking to her dolls and her voice boomed through the baby monitor to make sure Da-Da and Mama were awake and ready for the day at 7:15 a.m.
Reluctantly, I arose from my slumber and managed to put the monitor in the off position before resuming my wet diaper duties as Nikki put on a pot of coffee, to my delight.
Each year, as is tradition in the Perry family, my sister Dianne McIntyre hosts a family dinner at her home in Fairplain. This year, nearly 30 hungry members of the Perry Nation converged on her home with visions of temporary gluttony and a tryptophan induced coma on one of her sofas after the violence ceased at the dinner table.
This year I planned to approach the festivities from a different angle. I have been on a four-month battle of the bulge and have managed to shed 124 pounds in the process. I planned to approach the dinner with a game plan.
I would have one plate of food. I could have whatever I wanted but I could not stack my portions. NOTE: "Stacking" is a Perry Family patented technique that involves piling food on top of food to enhance available plating real estate.
This measure also prevents the painful tactical process of getting a third helping of my sister Drema's sweet potato casserole from the south end of the dinner table. Once a Perry begins eating, you can get hurt asking for favors.
I found that in the end, I had one plate of food and was satisfied. I didn't crave dessert or second helpings. I could have eaten the entire bowl of 7-layer salad that my sister Linda lovingly made, though.
I felt great and was rather proud of myself. I also planned not to get "sweaty" playing with the kids outside. Uncle Phil is always the one who will go out and roll in the mud with the kids. I can't help it. If there is a ball around I am the first one to it like a moth to a light.
Before dinner, Maria and I were strolling around the front yard and she was drawn to the older kids shooting hoops in the driveway. She spotted her cousin Felicity and made a run for her.
My nephew Alex, who is in his first semester at Marshall University, was organizing a game of "Pig" that had quickly turned into a game of "Turkey." He yelled to me, "Uncle Phil, you in?" This was the moment where I could have walked away and remained nice and clean for the evening. I had a decision to make.
This is where the camera paused and zoomed in on my face. Nikki took Maria's hand as if to open the window of opportunity for me. "Okay buddy, one game," I proclaimed as if this would conclude my physical activity for the day. After I shot a horrid 20 percent from the 3-point line that outlines the concrete driveway, I managed to pull out the victory on the strength of my free throw shooting (sarcasm).
We played another game and I was knocked out early so I strolled into the house thinking it was all over. After dinner, I visited with my brothers Bob and Paul and just soaked up what I could of the evening while Nikki and I chased our hyped up toddler around the house. Keeping a toddler in check while they are in someone else's house is quite a challenge. It is much like playing defense in basketball, you have to anticipate the moves of your opponent. Maria broke loose of our "double team" many times but in the end we prevailed. She is a good baby, really.
Later, as it was getting dark, I went outside to sip on my coffee and I began watching all of my nephews slinging the Nerf football around by the guidance of a floodlight attached to my sister's garage. The grass was wet and soft and footing was treacherous. Before I knew it, I was quarterbacking in the 2012 Fairplain Turkey Bowl game.
There is nothing like drawing up plays on the front of your hoodie for a 10-year old wide receiver. The first team to 21 was declared winner, but you had to win by two scores. We crop-dusted the South team with our reverses and creative trick plays. After the dust settled, my North team defeated the South in double overtime, 49-35. The MVP was an athletic wide receiver appropriately named "Jackson". The South had the co-MVP, a 6-year old named "Carson" who nearly took the game over with his stellar play.
I could not have quarterbacked my team to victory without the gourmet coffee provided to me courtesy of my nephew Don McIntyre. While my defense was on the field, I was slurping buckets of columbian whole bean coffee, freshly ground by D-Mac himself.
I suppose there is a moral to all of this. While I couldn't move when I woke up Friday morning, I wouldn't change a thing. I take pride in being the crazy uncle who refuses to put the ball down, regardless of my age.
I am a kid inside and it's okay to let it out on occasion. If you were to ask Nikki, she may confirm that she is actually raising two kids. I hope that your Thanksgiving was as fun and rewarding as mine. Now, if I could only get the swelling in my throwing elbow to go down…