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After Work: A Winter Saga

... It was estimated that 90 million people saw the Colts triumph over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. And I think there’s some deep and primal urge that drives us to gather and watch. Not unlike folks gathering in the cave, gorging the bounty of the hunt and telling heroic, lengthy tales…

Dona Gibbs brings us her own special take on America’s greatest annual sporting occasion.

The man and wife left the shelter of their home.

The days were growing longer. It gave them hope that winter was already retreating, but February weather can turn brutal. Soft mist was turning to hard rain.

On they traveled. They and others like them were being welcomed for the annual winter’s feast. The warm of community would be a welcome respite.

With the wind picking up, they doubted the ancient predictions of the rodent—a woodchuck this civilization annually prodded from his burrow to perform the Shadow Ceremony.

These people held on to a charming bit of lore. They believe that if the woodchuck saw his shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter. If he did not, there would be an early spring. An amusingly strange and counterintuitive notion.

On they went to the water edge, where their arrival was hailed with joy. They as others who gathered had brought food from their larder to share.

They would eat communally, often with their hands. They would huddle together and listen to stories spun about large brave men and cunning leaders.

The saga would be played out as it had for forty-one years. Now only would there be the dramatic tale, there would be joyous intervals of singing and dancing.

Hawkers often disguised as jesters would employ their considerable wiles to sell food, drink, vehicles and services of which might interest these people of commerce. Few of those gathered would leave the circle except to seek more food and drink from the repast set forth in abundance.

When the story had ended for yet another year, and the victor had been declared, the people celebrating would rise groaning from the soft seats and head out into the darkness toward their own homes and await the buds of spring.

Sounds like the setting of one of those famous and interminable Iceland sagas, huh? In fact it was how we, my husband and I, spent Super Bowl Sunday, February 4. The popularity of the Super Bowl in the U.S., in my opinion, isn’t all about large men moving a weird-looking ball up and down a 100-yard field of Astroturf.

Both large numbers of men, women and children are viewers. It was estimated that 90 million people saw the Colts triumph over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. And I think there’s some deep and primal urge that drives us to gather and watch. Not unlike folks gathering in the cave, gorging the bounty of the hunt and telling heroic, lengthy tales.

By Super Bowl Sunday, Christmas is long past. The last of the Christmas tree needles have finally been chased down by the vaccuum sweeper.

We’ve already broken the New Year’s resolutions we made.

By the first week of February, we’re ready to toss the final ones about over-eating and getting more exercise in the trash heap of good intentions.We settle back on the couch and stuff ourselves silly. We watch others exert themselves—for our entertainment.

Super Bowls are surrounded by a lot of hoopla. Advertisers go all out. But then since they’re spending as much as $2.6 million to air a 30-second spot, not counting considerable production costs, there’s a huge incentive not to bore us. A survey showed that more than half of U.S. adults watch the Super Bowl for as much or more for the advertisements as for the game.

This year a couple of commercials were done by amateurs. That’s right, people who had no professional experience. As a former ad writer, I have a shiver of horror. Lots of people have always told me they’d like to “try their hand at advertising” and they thought “they’d be good at it.”

I’ve always smirked and nodded.

Turns out they were probably right.

So my take on the Super Bowl is simply this. It’s a respite from winter’s dreariness. For four hours, we can forget about the wind driving sleets of water into the windows and the darkness outside. Not unlike an Icelandic saga. Or our cave dwelling ancestors.

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