In The Emotionally Healthy Church, Peter Scazzero makes the point that we often do not properly grieve the losses in our lives, and this hinders our ability to effectively minister to others. I’m excited about moving to Baton Rouge, and I’m confident that it’s what I need to do. However, I also understand that in doing so, I’m leaving behind almost 30 years of history, and that I need to recognize the drastic change this will cause in my life so it doesn’t become emotional baggage later on. So I’ll occasionally be writing about the things about life in New Jersey that I’m sad about losing, with the first installment being Giants games.
My family has had season tickets to the New York Giants for decades. My dad took me to my first game when I was four, and over the past quarter century, the only year I didn’t attend a game is the year I spent as a missionary intern in Russia. Giants Stadium was a home away from home for my siblings and me in our childhood. Fall afternoons were spent tailgating in the parking lot with our extended family and strangers who became something like family just from always tailgating in the same area (like the guy who gave us Devil Dogs before each and every game). Giants games were always the one thing that brought our family together–the one thing we all had in common.
When I found out that my wife and I were having a son, one of the first things I purchased for him was a little Eli Manning jersey/onesie. I was excited to raise another generation of Giants fans and daydreamed about bringing him to his first game, playing catch in the parking lot while we tailgated, and sharing with him the experiences that I had growing up and doing the same thing with my parents. I know that in the grand scheme of life and history, football doesn’t mean much, but the idea of not being able to do those things with my son definitely ran through my mind when I was presented with the opportunity to move to Louisiana.
Of course just because I’m moving to Louisiana doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be able to have those experiences. I’m sure I’ll make visits back to New Jersey during football season and that I’ll probably be able to use the family’s tickets. And I know that there are innumerable ways to bond with my son other than taking him to Giants games. But it’s still something I’ll miss doing with him, and something I expected to be doing with him. And sometimes losing an expected future is just as hard as losing an already experienced past.
I’m also now faced with a greater possibility that my son will not love the Giants as much as I do or, even worse, want to root for a different team. Raising kids to be Giants fans isn’t difficult when you live a half hour from the stadium and have tickets to the games. It might be slightly more difficult when we’re not even able to watch every game on TV. Or maybe I’ll just have to be more intentionally with sharing my love for the Giants with him, which in the end could help football be something we share together.