*The Texans invited fans to submit their best Texans stories for a chance to be featured on the team's 2011 season tickets in the "Your Story, Your Glory" contest. *
Selected to be on the ticket for the Week 13 Deep Steel Sunday game against the Atlanta Falcons was Aaron Hale from Pearland, Texas. This is his story:
"Texans games have become a family event for us. It's kind of brought our family together in the sense that everybody comes and it's such an upbeat event and upbeat atmosphere, you can't help but forget all the woes from home or some of the arguments that you've had between brother and sister – not that there are that many, of course. Everybody relaxes and watches the game and enjoys it. It gives us something to do together. It's a full-day event, so it really, really is exciting to be able to share it with your family. It's really been enjoyable.
"My mom died in 2000 of cancer, and now that we're all a lot older and grown, everybody gets busy in their lives. So, something that will bring you together is always a positive. We got together and figured, 'Texans, it's 10 times a year, 10 games at home. It's something we could really do together and something that we could really enjoy.' We all enjoy football, we all enjoy the Texans, so it was just a no-brainer for us to get the season tickets and do it. And now that all of our families are expanding, it's just become a bigger event, and all of our families are pooled in and a part of it.
"It started originally with my dad, my sister and my brother. We were the four originals for the first couple of seasons. Then my brother and my dad got separate tickets as they got married and moved to different sections, so I brought in my wife and my daughter, and I still sit with my sister and her fiancée.
"The season tickets meant family time. It meant all of us being together. It meant 10 possible ways every year, no excuses, we were together. It created memories. There's pictures from the game, there's times that we go home and we're like, 'Oh, yeah, remember this from the game' or 'Look at that picture from the game.' We meet before the game, after the game and eat, and on the away games, we still have the opportunity to meet at each other's houses. We still dress up, we still yell at the game together, we still do all that. Houston Texans games mean family time for us. It's what brings us together. It's what we enjoy to do.
"In a sense, Texans gameday on Sunday has evolved into family day throughout the rest of the year. We're so used to getting together during the season and it's such a positive event that we stay together for the rest of the year, and it's been very, very positive thing for bringing our family all together and keeping us together.
"Part of our gameday tradition is getting up and deciding what you're going to wear that day, because there is a little bit that goes into it. You don't want to wear something that maybe you wore and it was a bad loss, an upsetting loss. That kind of has to go away, so you've got to get something new.
"At the beginning of the season on gameday, opening day, I always buy and choose one hat that's going to be my season hat. I have to buy it from the store on site, and that's going to be my hat. Throughout the game, I kind of use the hat to kind of pull with the kicker. I pull on it a certain way or pull on it another way to help him get the kick through the uprights. For big plays, I keep spinning it in my hand and keep trying to catch it in the same spot until the play is over.
"We always meet down in a certain spot in the parking lot before the game before we go to our separate seats. We try to at least get together and take a picture. My sister, she's our official photographer for the family. She always has her camera. If somebody can't make it, we bring another family member or a friend, and we always make sure we get down and take the picture and then have that as a memory for the day. My sister keeps those compiled, and that's also part of our Houston Texans experience that we can go back and look at.
"I think the Texans tailgating experience is unlike any other. There's bands. There's music you can hear everywhere. The food is phenomenal. People are cooking Mexican food. They're grilling pork chops, steaks, barbeque. Anything you want, you can get out there, and when you're walking by, people are just handing it to you, for the most part. You don't have to ask for it; they're offering it. It's just such a camaraderie, such a 'We're all in this together' experience. It's fantastic. If you need something to drink, you can walk up and ask anybody. If you need to sit down a second, you can walk up and use somebody's chair. If you need to listen to some music, more than likely there's going to be people dancing out in front of that band. It's unreal. Everybody is there together. Everybody has their own spot and their own food but it's for everyone every week, and that's what makes it really, really amazing.
"Getting out of the house, coming down here to this environment, to the tailgating, to the music, to the food, it gets us all away from our daily lives and our jobs, and we're here together enjoying it all. The pictures we take and the conversations we have, the dancing we do and just everything about it, it just means family. You get your football, you get your family and you put 'em together, and not to mention all your friends that you've met here that have been here since 2002 like us. You see them here and you meet their families and they meet your family. It's what it's all about."