There are two types of people who emerge every year in late fall—you’ve got your Thanksgiving people, and you’ve got your Christmas people. You know Thanksgiving people. They complain about Christmas displays going up in grocery stores the day after Halloween, they sprain their ankles during backyard Turkey Bowl games, and they know which breed won the National Dog Show (the Sealyham terrier). And you know your Christmas people. They put reindeer antlers on their cars, collect nutcrackers, and throw ugly sweater parties.
I have a bad back; it’s the product of 20th century golf swing mechanics and the hundreds of practice range balls I used to beat daily as a competitive golfer in my teens and twenties. It first flared up just a few days before the Yale University Collegiate Invitational, a major Division I college golf tournament, during my sophomore year. While the pain can be debilitating, then, I could seek treatment in our team room from university trainers; today, its strain seems to come up at the worst times, and I’m told that improving my core strength is the only real treatment.
I was raised Catholic, went to CCD, took first communion, was confirmed, and attended St. Patrick’s Church in Rockville, MD, with my Italian grandparents nearly every Sunday. My wife is Jewish, attended Hebrew day school, became a Bat Mitzvah, and even lived briefly on a kibbutz in Israel. Neither of us would be described as religiously devout today. We celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, Yom Kippur and Easter.
One of the most captivating things about traveling across Italy is that ancient history is never further than a few steps away. Florence is home to the oldest stone bridge in Europe, and the same streets Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Medici family strolled. In Siena, the Palio dates back to 1482, and is still run today; this year’s victors were the Goose and the Rhino. The Etruscans grew vines and made wine in Tuscany as far back as the ninth century BCE. And in Rome the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Forum all date back to the time of Caesar.
My grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy as Benito Mussolini’s brand of fascism swept across the country in the first half of the 20th century. It was their journey to America that offered me the privilege of growing up with Italian grandparents in the house; we were the only family on my street who had multi-generations living under the same roof. Having emigrated from small towns in the Abruzzi region, my grandparents didn’t speak much English.
Do you remember the television show Early Edition? Set in Chicago, the character played by Kyle Chandler would receive a copy of the newspaper the day before it was actually published. Chandler’s character would then use the information in the paper to prevent tragic events. My wife’s good friend was a writer on the series, and he even named a minor character, Detective Winslow, after us.
Do you remember the ice-bucket challenge? I do, and I even remember where I was when I was called out, and the three others I nominated to follow me. Viral trends come around every now and then on social media, and the latest involves women asking the men in their lives how often they think about ancient Rome.
Dating back to the early 19th century, and based on the idea that there are two wheels on a bicycle, the idiom being “a third wheel” is used to indicate situations when someone would be a burden, unnecessary, and/or an unwelcomed member of a group. The saying is commonly used in situations when there is one couple, and a third person, or “third wheel,” would be the odd person out by not fitting in. U.S. politics is dominated by the two-party system, and at times, each Party, Republican and Democrat, have viewed third-party presidential candidates as “third wheels.”
The 2023 National Football League (NFL) season quite literally kicked off Thursday when the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs played the Detroit Lions. Although the Chiefs of the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFC remain heavy favorites to return to the Super Bowl next February, all 32 NFL teams will play the season under a variety of rules changes.