By Michelle SanfordMichelle Sanford

It is football season in the Sanford home and I’m so thankful for that. Not just because I love watching the Patriots play, but also because there is something about this season that brings back a sense of normalcy which has long been missed by so many.

A few weekends ago, our Saturday and Sunday were football themed one might say. My husband, son, and I took a trip up to UMass Amherst to visit my daughter and the four of us attended the UMass vs. Boston College football game. Unfortunately, as expected, UMass lost.

Nonetheless, it was great to be in a stadium once again enjoying a football game on a beautiful September day, along with thousands of other fans. And yet, there were still reminders that day that we’re continuing to deal with this pandemic; we were not allowed to go into my daughter’s dorm and I wondered if we’d have to verify our vaccination status to get into the game.

Regardless, it was a good day. And not surprising, the two males of the family debated the college football game all the way home.

On Sunday, we went apple picking with my husband’s family; a tradition that has been going on for more than 25 years. Talk, of course, was the Patriot’s home opener just a few hours away with some debating the defenses of both teams.

The following morning, my son was getting ready for school and my husband was preparing for a quick job-related road trip, the two began disagreeing over what caused the Patriot’s loss. My husband saying opposing teams should not be allowed to “punch it (the football) out,” which ultimately resulted in a fumble causing New England to the lose the game. My son stating firmly, “Dad, that’s football!” However, both agreed that Mac Jones had a good first game and were encouraged that a better season was coming for the Patriots.

Although the Patriots lost the game, it was wonderful finally seeing a jam-packed stadium full of fans; something that was sorely missed last year and something I’m hoping continues throughout the season.

Then, as the two were walking out the door for school and work, they checked their fantasy football league, ribbing each other for how bad they did. And while I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head on the outside, inside I was smiling realizing there are some things this pandemic won’t ever change…and I’m so thankful for that.