Nov. 23, 2011
The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year as people dart across the country to see family for the holiday. But among those who won't be traveling home to see family are members of Vanderbilt's football team. With a game on Saturday at Wake Forest (2:30 p.m.), the Commodores will spend Thursday morning on the practice field before enjoying Thanksgiving meals at the homes of their position coaches.
But not everyone will wait until Thursday to begin their Thanksgiving traditions. Sophomore fullback Fitz Lassing, a Nashville native, has invited teammates over for dinner at his parent's home Wednesday night for what he calls a, "big not Thanksgiving meal" that his mom makes.
"Last year she made Mexican," Lassing said. "I'm not sure what she is going to do this year, but it is always something different to throw people off before Thanksgiving. It keeps her from having to make two Thanksgiving meals."
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is an important holiday for the Lassing family to reunite. He would spend Thursday's in Springfield, Tenn., with his mom's side of the family and Friday's would be spent in Nashville with his dad's side of the family.
Visiting with both sides of the family also meant two Thanksgiving meals.
"I get to critique the food and see which side is doing better every year," Lassing joked.
The family gathering on his dad's side has also led to an annual backyard football game with bragging rights on the line.
"It gets pretty heated," Lassing remarked. "It used to be kids vs. adults, but the kids started growing up and the adults were getting hurt so now we throw everybody out there and see what happens."
"We used to play tackle back in the day, but two of my uncles tore their ACLs so we had to cut back on tackling a little bit. It is two-hand touch, but it is still heated."
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Boyd spent the majority of his Thanksgivings in Chicago.
"The car rides to Chicago to see my grandparents and other family members was my favorite tradition," said Boyd, who would pile in the car with his brothers and parents for the 13-hour drive from his home in Atlanta to the Windy City.
And many times Boyd was greeted by snow - something he considered a gift having lived in the south.
"We had so much fun playing in the snow," Boyd said. We would jump off my aunt's deck into the snow because we knew it wouldn't hurt. I remember one time there was 18 inches of snow, which was absurd."
In addition to spending time with family, Thanksgiving centers around the most anticipated meal of the year. For Boyd, he has to have his aunt's sweet potato casserole. Lassing can't go without a slice of pumpkin pie. As for defensive tackle Vince Taylor, it is the dressing his mom makes and nothing else ... literally.
"The only thing I eat is dressing, and if my mom doesn't make it, I don't eat it," Taylor said so seriously that you knew he wasn't kidding. "I don't eat turkey or anything with it; I just eat it by itself."
Come Thanksgiving, not everyone is as picky as Taylor. Without a doubt there will be a few players who will put a sizeable dent in any spread placed in front of them on Thursday. A few that will, may surprise you.
"Larry Smith would eat the most," Taylor said.
"Jordan Rodgers," answered Boyd.
Really, two quarterbacks? Finally, I got an answer that would be expected.
"Jared Morse (defensive tackle) and Ryan Seymour (offensive lineman)," Lassing said.
All will dig in for the annual feast on Thursday, and although they won't be able to spend the time with their immediate family as they did growing up, they will be spending the day with the closest thing to it - their teammates and coaches.
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