Family, Fun, and…FOOTBALL SEASON!

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Last Saturday, I was one of the many college football fans across the country to proudly attend my Alma Mater’s opening home game of the season. As I walked around campus enjoying the exciting atmosphere, I couldn’t help but smile…kids tossing around a football, adorable elderly couples walking hand in hand on their way into the stadium to cheer for their favorite team, and proud new parents showing off their infants (who were, of course, decked out in their team colors too!) On any given Saturday in the fall, no matter what college campus you visit, the unique tradition of tailgating and football that brings so many families together is everywhere—and I love it. This time of year always gets me thinking about this tradition within my own family, and how it has shaped my life.

In my family, attending Auburn football games has always been one of the greatest and most meaningful traditions we have. From as far back as I can remember I would travel with my family to Auburn on weekends in the fall to tailgate with other families and just enjoy the atmosphere and great company that goes along with cheering for your favorite team on “Football Saturdays.” Many memories were made during these times, and as a current Auburn student I fondly look back on the days when we would gather with my cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles to celebrate the loyalty and pride we have for our favorite university and its football team (win OR lose, of course!). Even though many of us lived miles apart, it was the memories we made on football Saturdays in the Fall that brought my family closer together and even made each of us part of who we are today.

I now realize how much these experiences have meant to me throughout the years, and how important any family tradition is, really. Family traditions such as these allow us to create a unique shared meaning of something familiar that is important to us. Because of this tradition and the loyalty and love of Auburn University that was instilled in me by my family when I was young, I have gone on to complete my bachelor’s degree here, and will soon graduate in December with my master’s degree as well. As my time as an Auburn student draws to a close, I can’t help but get emotional when I think about all the incredible memories I’ve made in this place not only as a student, but also as a member of an Auburn family. Even though many things have changed in my family over the years, I am reminded of what I have learned about the importance and meaning of traditions like tailgating and college football—no matter which team you cheer for!

Bailey Lathem, (soon to be) M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant, Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

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