When I was a younger mom, Super Bowl Sunday ranked right up there with Easter egg hunts and trick or treating. From the time they could figure out how to use the remote control on the TV set, my sons were all about football. Two of them, Matt and Dana, were 49er fans during the reign of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. I took the boys to Seattle twice to see the ’Niners play the Seahawks. Montana was sidelined with injuries, but we saw Steve Young, Steve Bono and a young Elvis Grbac play.
My first twin Collin has always been a Miami Dolphins fan. From childhood through high school, Collin made his room a shrine to Dan Marino. Collin wore turquoise and orange T-shirts and jerseys with the number 13. As a young adult decked out in his NFL team jacket and Dolphins hat, Collin flew to Arizona and drove to Oakland several times to see Marino and the Dolphins play.
In January 1991, we moved into the best rental we ever had. It was on the Rogue River in Grants Pass. The home was vintage 1950s with flocked wallpaper and pink tiles in the bath. But the vast green rolling lawn that disappeared into a narrow beach was the perfect back yard for raising three boys, 13 and 8.
We moved in on the 15th and managed to get organized in time to host a Super Bowl XXV party less than two weeks later. I cooked up a storm for the friends my sons invited to watch the game with us. The menu included twice-baked potatoes, nachos, barbequed ribs, baked beans and li’l smokies in a tangy red sauce.
Whitney Houston sang the Star Spangled Banner. The game was a real nail-biter. The Giants defeated the Bills by just one point when Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a field goal attempt in the last seconds of the game.
Years of Super Bowls and Super Bowl parties later, I planned to be with my family this past Sunday during our second annual Super Bowl in Salem party. Last year our schedules worked out better to get together for the Super Bowl at my son’s home in Salem than for Christmas, so we agreed on a repeat this year. I went up a day early last year and shopped for groceries with my daughter-in-law. We delivered on all the family requests: twice-baked potatoes, marinated Hawaiian pork ribs, homemade nachos and li’l smokies in the red sauce.
When Rick did whatever he did to end up flat on his back last week, I knew that driving up to Salem to party wasn’t in the cards. I tried to convince myself it didn’t matter. After all, it was just the Super Bowl.
Saturday my daughter-in-law called from a grocery store in Salem. I felt a tug at my heart when Holly said she had everything covered, but needed my recipe for the “li’l smokies in the red sauce.”
It’s a recipe I got from a co-worker in Honolulu in the ’70s when I was younger than Holly is now. She made the appetizer for every office party and it was always a big hit. Red currant jelly, yellow mustard to thicken it and those Oscar Mayer li’l smokies heated through in the sauce.
During half-time of Super Bowl XXV the young boys at our party ran outside and scrimmaged on the lawn until the third quarter started. The scene would repeat itself for nearly a decade: boys, football, parties, Mom’s snacks and eager toothpicks stabbing at those li’l smokies. I couldn’t be there this Super Bowl Sunday, but it does my heart good to know that another family tradition lives on.