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I’ve taken down and packed away the Christmas ornaments from our dried and shriveling tree. Though the stockings were hung with care on the mantle, they were carelessly stuffed under the chipped ceramic snowman. He’s the one item that, with the arrival of each holiday season, I pray will be knocked off the coffee table and broken into a thousand pieces. Alas, Mr. Snowman is still with us, smirk and all.

Though I still have cardboard boxes piled on the bed of our guest room awaiting a trip to the attic for another year’s storage, I have long since lost the holiday spirit. For instance, someone called the other day right when I was desperately trying to prepare supper and wanted to know if I’d again be kind enough to donate some money to a particular charity. I popped open my checkbook, glanced at the balance and told her I should be on the receiving end this time. Maybe next year, I added before hanging up.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was relieved to see the hectic holidays behind us. No more racking our brains for the perfect gifts. No more chaotic mall crowds. No more attending parties where everyone looks as if they shopped at “Black Velvet R Us.” No more red and green M&Ms.

No doubt about it, there’s always a big letdown after we drag the tree to the curb and new toys no longer have appeal. Folks return to the daily grind, shouting obscenities at drivers who haven’t yet caught on to the fact they can turn right on red, as if peace and goodwill are seasonal things.

While I’m moping around the house, stooping every few steps to pick tree needles out of the carpet, my husband has endless bounce in his step. He sings when he gets up in the morning and he bounds through the door in the evening. I’ve talked to other wives about their spouses. They, too, say their husbands are acting like kids romping in the first snowfall.

“Maybe it’s because they bought us things like the ‘Meat Thaw Board’ and are still alive today.”

“No. I think it’s because the most difficult thing they’ll have to assemble for another year is a beer and huggie.”

“You’re all wrong,” said the veteran among us. “They are happy because we are in the midst of football blitzmania. Plain and simple.”

She, of course, was right on target. We are in the midst of football playoffs and bowl games. And that is why husbands in households across this town, county and nation are beside themselves. There is football practically every night.

All day New Year’s, that’s where I found Glenn, glued to the TV set, the channel changer balanced on one leg and our son on the other. “I’m teaching him about the game,” he said during a commercial break.

“Look, son, who’s that?” he asked, pointing to a buxom brunette cheerleader with good teeth.

“Mama.”

I looked closely at the likeness. She had brown hair. I have brown hair. She wore tennis shoes. So did I. Her waist was 17 inches. My waist measurement has a seven in it. She’ll retire early because of a photo shoot in Playboy. I’ll simply retire.

For most women, football is something we’ll never understand. Oh, we watch it a few times and can tell you the basics. But I’m talking about men’s passion for the game. I guess it’s a lot like women heading to Boaz with unlimited credit.

I left Glenn and Van downstairs yelling for their favorite team and cheering with “Mama.” As with other holiday traditions, men proudly hand down to a new generation their love for first downs, underdogs and plain pretzels.

Mary Farrell Thomas writes a weekly column for the Daily Journal.

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