UNIVERSITY PARK - Thanksgiving brings us all together - a time to enjoy family, food and some football.
Adversity also tends to further unify people, and the current Penn State football team obviously has been force fed a heaping helping of unwanted adversity over the past three weeks.
While the Nittany Nation has been derailed by the tragic events - of the stomach-turning allegations against Jerry Sandusky, the abrupt firings of Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier and the perjury charges on Tim Curley and Gary Schultz - with each passing day, the players seem to more thankful for their routine.
And for football.
Asked if this year's Thanksgiving will be even more meaningful, linebacker Nathan Stupar, one of the team's more religious players, said, "I guess so. It's a good time to reflect and be thankful for what you have and thank God for everything he's given you."
The seniors and team leaders available at Tuesday's press conference said the issues really haven't caused them to lean on their family more than usual.
"When I talk to my mom or my brother, I don't want to talk about it," receiver Derek Moye said. "Everyone else is talking about it - your friends, everyone up here, they want to talk about it. So when you talk to your family, I kind of want to talk to them about everything else that's going on."
Technology has allowed today's college students and their families to be in touch far more than yesteryear's days of a brief, weekly collect call from a gross dorm-floor pay phone.
"I feel like I have the best family," safety Drew Astorino said. "I talk to my dad and mom and my brother and sister on a regular basis. My parents have been there, especially these last couple weeks but my whole entire life."
Despite the presence of national media trucks in State College, Stupar said the team hasn't been distracted.
"The media blows it up, but you've just got to keep it [in the] past, put it behind you and just keep looking forward to the main goal of being Big Ten champs," Stupar said.
With no classes in session, it's been a different week.
A movie theater was rented out for the team to see "The Immortals," Wednesday night - interim coach Tom Bradley joked that "the NCAA has allowed us to get them free popcorn and a Coke," - and a Thanksgiving meal is planned for today.
Practice has continued daily. Maybe concentration would stray if the Lions were 4-7, but they're 9-2 with their main goal, playing for a Big Ten title, an upset - OK, a monster upset - at Wisconsin away.
"I think we're a close group to begin with," Moye said. "I don't really know how much closer we can get. We kind of block everything out that's going on on the outside."
The players' attitude is understandable in that their futures are more defined. Some will graduate, be drafted or take a shot at the NFL. The underclassmen will await the appointment of the next head coach and gauge their futures accordingly.
As for the current coaching and support staff, well, they face uncertainty.
"It's interesting," Bradley said. "I was in the equipment room the other day, and some of the players are coming up to the equipment managers and asking how they're doing. They've been more concerned with how we're doing. I think they're a resilient group. They have stuck together. They've unified from this."
It sounds like they always were, which is one reason for Nittany Lion fans to be thankful.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.