Super Bowl is good excuse for friends, family to gather

Lights decorate trees outside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday.  The stadium is the site of Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl XLV game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Charlie Riedel | AP
Lights decorate trees outside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday. The stadium is the site of Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl XLV game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Posted Feb. 03, 2011, at 5:49 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 04, 2011, at 5:31 p.m.

Today's poll

Who will win the Super Bowl, The Steelers or The Packers?

The Steelers
The Packers

It’s hard to remember when the Super Bowl became a family event in our household. Its importance became clear about 14 years ago when we learned that the game would be aired on a network that did not come in on our TV. For years we had held out against cries of indignation from our four children, who insisted that we were the only family on the planet that did not have cable TV. The prospect of no Super Bowl, however, broke down our defenses. We got cable for the game.

We thought we were highly original at the time, celebrating the Super Bowl with a once-a-year junk food fest thath thrilled our children. It turned out we were just jumping on the bandwagon of what has become an unofficial national holiday. It features multimillion-dollar commercials, tons of frozen appetizers, 8 million pounds of guacamole, a lot of beer, and — oh yeah, football. Even more important, Super Bowl Sunday means people coming together.

The National Retail Federation (which loves the Super Bowl) tells me that of the 171 million people who will watch the game, more than 34 million plan to throw their own party, and another 61 million will attend one. With the Patriots out of the running, I conducted my own poll to see how Mainers celebrate the big game.

The football part of the game is less important than usual (though there is a predominance of Packers fans), but no one seems to be canceling their parties. Nonfootball watchers, I was told, “might watch the halftime show and try and catch a few of the creative ads.” A great deal of lively conversation goes on before, during and after the game, and it goes beyond analysis of the game itself. People discuss TV ads, the changing fashion of football uniforms, the length of the players’ hair, and the quality of the halftime show.

Virtually everyone cited the social aspects of the Super Bowl as central to the day. A typical response was, “It is a good excuse for a get-together and chili and Tex-Mex dip…”

“We look forward to it every year,” said Tom. “We have tried different family-friendly things,” he went on, but nothing pleases like “the junk food and enjoying the commercials.”

Here is another report: “Our traditions are pretty typical; good food, good beer and good friends. We also have an official NFL game ball that we like to pass around to help us feel like we’re there.”

In our first year of the empty nest, my husband and I wondered how we would celebrate this lonely Feb. 6. Then we were asked to a Super Bowl party. Our hosts will air the game in a room they call “Joe’s Man Cave.” How can we resist?

The bottom line is — it’s February. There is a ton of snow. It’s really cold outside, and none of us really gets out enough this time of year. Even though people report it to be “overhyped and wicked commercialized,” they love the fact that it brings people together.

There is also a silver lining to the Patriots’ elimination — recent studies show that there is a measurable increase in heart attacks among avid fans on Super Bowl Sunday. Mainers can all enjoy the game and avoid the emergency room.

Elaine, a big fan of the Super Bowl for reasons that have little to do with football, sums it up nicely:

“Up here in Maine, it is a great time for all ages to gather. We share recipes, talk about the cold weather and snow, where we’ll go on school vacation, how the college-aged kids are doing. Younger kids get to stay up late, together with friends and food. It doesn’t get much better on a cold, snowy, February Sunday!”

Robin Clifford Wood is always happy to hear feedback and suggestions at one of her blogs: ayearofgettingup.blogspot.com or thesunriseblogger.blogspot.com; or at robin.everyday@gmail.com.

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