It’s true that the World Cup has more spectators world-wide than the Olympics. I know this because I looked it up on the internet. I didn’t believe my father when he told me that we were going to be attending the World Cup this year—I mean that kind of thing just does not happen in our family. But we were going, and I was thrilled.

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I have been playing football my whole life. But I never thought that football would be the glue that held our family together. Every four years, extended family from all over the country would come to our house. They would stay for the whole month of the Cup; much like a summer vacation. These times were the best times I have ever had—I learned about my cousins and aunts and uncles. We played football when we weren’t watching football. My mother would make huge dinners, and her sisters would help.

In my excitement about going to the World Cup—like actually going to Russia—I forgot about what plans the rest of the family would have. Except that night, over dinner, when we were excitedly discussing our plans, my mom was quiet. I knew immediately what was wrong.

“Mom, are you okay?” I looked at her and realized she wasn’t. She was crying.

“I want to go,” she said, “but I am going to miss our traditional family get together.”

My father pointed out that one of her sisters was going as well. But she shook her head. “Mama and Papa are getting so old. This might be the last World Cup month that we have together.”

That’s when my heart sank. I knew that I didn’t want us to go to the World Cup—we simply could not miss out on the tradition of having the family, all of the family, together for an entire month. I needed to see my cousins! I realized one of cousins was able to drive now. We hadn’t seen each other since we were 12 and 11 respectively. The month could be full of a lot of fun, the more I thought about it. Plus, I was really good at football and I was looking forward to our own scrimmages.

But then I noticed my father’s crestfallen face. He really wanted to go, but I could see that he didn’t want to miss out on the month of our family tradition either. Plus, so many of our family member came to us from hot areas of the country. They looked forward to this as much as we looked forward to having them. It would not be fair for us to not go.

My father stood up and went to put his arms around my mother’s shoulders. “It’s okay, sweetheart, we will not go. I would prefer to stay right here and continue our family tradition.”

My mother sighed a huge sigh of relief. She wiped her last tear and took a bite of dinner. I spoke up, “I would prefer to stay here, too! Although the idea of traveling to Russia is really exciting, I don’t think I could enjoy the World Cup without the rest of the family and our family tradition.”

My parents looked at me with one of those looks that makes me know that I had made them proud. It was a strange thing, I thought to myself, that the excitement of going to Russia, being live at the World Cup, was not at all exciting once I thought about experiencing it by missing the family tradition.