This Thanksgiving was different for a lot of reasons.

The biggest and obvious thing that was different was this was the first Thanksgiving I haven’t gotten to spend with my parents, grandparents and my sister and her family.

My dad has been battling cancer the last year and is doing quite well, but because of his battle, he is more susceptible to COVID.

Dad tested positive for COVID a couple weeks ago and has had minor symptoms throughout, thankfully.

Unfortunately, he still has periods where he runs a low-grade fever, which our family decided we’d make the painful decision of staying at our respective homes and sharing Thanksgiving with our immediate family.

It was definitely different and I absolutely missed spending time with my family, but dad and I still got to spend time with each other, talking about our favorite teams Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Cubs.

We didn’t do this in person, nor did we do this on Zoom.

Dad and I did this over playing Madden football on the PS4 over the internet.

Dad and I have been playing sports video games together for as long as I can remember.

Dad has told me stories of him and his brother playing older sports video games when they were growing up and it was somewhat of a tradition of theirs to play a game or two on Thanksgiving Day and then go outside to throw the football around.

Then, as I was born and got old enough to play games, dad and I played several throughout the years.

It was a different way to connect with each other and spend time with each other, especially when the weather was too cold to go outside and throw a football, baseball or shoot hoops.

We have loved trying to build teams from the ground up, taking the role of a general manager, and trying to win that respective sports’ championship.

Some of my greatest memories are doing this with dad and occasionally, we break out an old XBOX that we have and doing exactly that together.

But, because this year was so different, I wanted to be able to spend time with dad somehow and that way was to play online against him in Madden.

We played a trio of games, two of which he won, and it was a ton of fun doing it as two were nail biters.

The first game, I took 31-28 after dad turned the ball over late as he was driving.

The third game, we headed into overtime, which he ended up winning on a rushing touchdown.

But, the middle game, dad blew me out of the water.

We can’t explain it, but every time dad plays as the Dallas Cowboys, he beats me bad.

It seems like I can’t do anything against him when he is the Cowboys.

This time, as dad chose his beloved Cowboys, I picked the Seattle Seahawks in hopes that I would stand a better chance.

I was completely wrong as dad throttled me, while Russell Wilson had a game his real self would be extremely embarrassed about.

But, despite losing that game and the subsequent overtime game, I couldn’t help but have fun.

Hearing dad say how cool it was to be able to play online while he was at his house and I was at mine, was such a great thing.

It shows that no matter how far apart we are, even if our houses are a two-minute drive from each other, that we can still spend time together through the power of the internet.

It’s one of the reasons why I believe the internet is such a great invention. I also think it’s not so great of an invention, but that’s a conversation for a different time.

Being able to spend that time with dad, not only talking about sports, but our families is something I cherish.

When my son arrives in March, I know I’ll be looking forward to doing this with him as he gets older and maybe he can play a couple of games with his grandpa.

Despite dad and I being physically separated because of the way this year has gone, we were still together and had a great time.

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