After a morning practice Hallman turns the players loose so they can spend Thanksgiving with their families. He then puts on his "Thanksgiving suit"—it's a family tradition to dress up for the holiday—and picks up his daughters, who live with his wife, Dale. They join about 20 others for a Thanksgiving feast at a mansion on a farm outside Baton Rouge. Curley has been living in a much smaller house on the farm since he and Dale separated earlier this fall. It's also where Jessica has been taking riding lessons.
During dinner one of the caterers spontaneously begins singing a gospel song, Give Us This Day, her voice rich and clear and soaring. "Everybody's fork hit the plate," Jennifer says later. "It was just a gorgeous moment. This has been a stressful year for our family. Everything seems to be coming down at once. I guess what I've learned is that you should make the best of every moment because you never know how long it'll be that way."
After taking his daughters home, Hallman returns to his office, changes clothes and resumes the cleaning-out process. It's one of those times he misses Buster. "A tough day," he says. He makes more notes and lists.
At her mother's house, Jennifer, who's a high school senior, also writes. She puts into her journal that the first "different" Thanksgiving was "really neat" because she got to spend some happy time with both her dad and her mom. And she will always remember the gospel song.
The chartered plane that was to take the Tigers to Little Rock has developed mechanical problems, so another one is being brought in from Houston. The two-hour delay means no last picture show—Hallman always took the team to a movie on Friday nights before a game—so he settles for a final team dinner at Piccadilly Cafeteria in Baton Rouge.
At the hotel in Little Rock, Hallman is pleased that Jennifer and Jessica wanted to make the trip. They stay in his suite and remind him of his promise that they can be on the sidelines. "And you're not going to weasel out of it," Jennifer says.
Hallman grins and shakes his head. "She's a Hallman," he says. "She's stubborn."
It's a miserable day in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium—foggy, drizzly and cold. Fortunately Jennifer and Jessica have brought their heavy coats. "It wasn't supposed to be this cold," says Jennifer, shivering as she sips a cup of coffee.