Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. It’s uniquely American and without the assorted pressures of Christmas. A time to be grateful for life’s many blessings. Family, friends, health, and our wonderful country of opportunity and advancement.
And your office’s potluck holiday dinner. G-R-O-S-S.
I mean, Tammy in accounting is nice enough and she turns in her TPS reports on time, but why am I obligated to sample her homemade tuna noodle casserole? The thought of a random co-worker whipping up some mystery dish at home gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Then there’s that awkward moment when, during the pretend-to-be-jovial office feast, Tammy insists that my plate has available real estate for some dee-lish tuna noodle casserole.
Office potluck dinners: not thankful for.
SEC football, on the other hand: definitely thankful for.
Where to start with so much SEC goodness for which I’m thankful? I’m thankful that SEC football is woven into life’s fabric here in the South. Saturday nights in Death Valley. The Bear. The Grove. The Volunteer Navy. The Swamp. Whatever nondescript traditions they have at Kentucky.
Perhaps I’m most thankful for SEC fans. Some crazy, many colorful, all passionate.
I’m thankful for SEC coaches and their larger-than-life, borderline ludicrous personalities. I’m thankful for elaborate tailgate spreads from College Station to Columbia and everywhere in between. I’m thankful for college towns like Athens, Oxford, and Tuscaloosa.
I’m thankful for the SEC’s top-flight talent and spirited competition. Nowhere other than the NFL is the sport of football played at a higher level.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to bring you SEC Banter during the fall, and for those of you who tell me you enjoy it.
I’m thankful that the all-time best movie about Thanksgiving, 1987’s “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” is on every night this time of year. If only Florida had the determination of Steve Martin’s Neal Page and the know-how of John Candy’s Del Griffith.
I’m thankful that the SEC has saved its best for the last weekend of the regular season. Rivals will clash to decide the East and West division titles. Others without SEC aspirations on the line will meet with something equally important at stake: good old Southern pride.
The action starts tonight with the 110th rendition of the Egg Bowl. If your food coma hasn’t induced an early bedtime, flip on Ole Miss at Mississippi State and you’ll drift right off to sleep.
Then there’s the traditional LSU-Arkansas tilt on Friday. Ditch the usual day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sammie and honcho yourself some turkey gumbo instead. Throw in a little jalapeno sausage and I guarantee the gumbo will be spicier than the Hogs-Tigers contest.
Heading into the weekend, the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn is being billed as the biggest football game in the history of Alabama. This is notable, mostly because the roughly five million citizens of Alabama think that every football game is the biggest game in the history of that fine state.
Then we’ve got Missouri hosting Johnny Football and his merry Aggies. With a victory, Mizzou captures the SEC East in only the Tigers’ second SEC season.
My uncle, a longtime SEC aficionado, remarked recently and defiantly that Missouri cannot possibly win the SEC East because (he struggled for words here) they’re from Missouri.
With nothing but we run this state pride at stake, Georgia closes out one of the most snake-bitten seasons in recent memory on the flats against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs should handle the Tech nerds easily and win one for their sidelined leader, Aaron Murray.
A similar vitriolic rivalry renews in the Palmetto State with South Carolina hosting Clemson as the Gamecocks look for their fifth straight win over the orange-clad Tigers. On behalf of all SEC fans, here’s a plea to South Carolina: please beat this overrated ACC squad and prevent Clemson from book-ending its season with wins over the nation’s finest football conference.
Happy Thanksgiving, SEC friends. I hope you enjoy the holiday and the last regular season Saturday in the SEC.
In the meantime, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” is on tonight and I’m throwing a spontaneous potluck dinner viewing party. After the movie, we can line up at Wal-Mart, bust down the doors at midnight, and get our shopping on.
Anyone have some leftover tuna noodle casserole they can bring?
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.