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  • Heather McDorman

Atlanta Escapade: A Journey of Family, Food, Football, and Fun

Two brothers and a sister posing together.
I love spending time with my younger brothers Sean (left) and Scott (right).

For the last several years, I traveled to Atlanta to visit my two younger brothers and their families, and this year was no exception. It’s a trip that’s important to me.

Because our parents have long passed away, my brothers and I recognize that we are each other’s links to our family history and shared experiences. So, my annual trip feeds my soul and helps to recharge the part of me that is Heather Bruce – who is a big part of Heather McDorman.

Each of these family fall trips is filled with football, food, and, of course, fun. My brother, Sean, is the head football coach and athletic director at a private high school academy, and it’s important to me to schedule the trip for a weekend that includes a home football game for Sean and his team.


When Bob and I visit Atlanta together, we choose a site or two to visit and learn more about the city. This visit included a stop and stroll through the wonderful Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The library is a research library and only available to visit by appointment, but his museum is open to all.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is so serene and features a rose garden and a bust of President Jimmy Carter.

The outdoors included a rose garden and a massive sculpture of President Carter. The inside included all the requisite timeline and facts about Mr. Carter’s family, service, political career, and post-political career. We both learned so much, but what I already knew – and it was in full display at the museum – is what an amazing human being and humanitarian Carter is.

Inside the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
This section of the museum features a day in the life of Jimmy Carter when he was president.

While many may consider his presidency not the strongest, I think most agree that he and his wife Rosalyn have contributed so much to our world – be it working with foreign dignitaries, aiding third world countries, promoting the importance of mental health treatment and awareness, and serving others through such organizations as Habitat for Humanity.

I recommend visiting the center when in Atlanta. You’ll enjoy the multimedia exhibits, the replica Oval Office, and the Day in the Life presentation, but you will also see the center is peaceful, tranquil, serene just like you would expect to feel after spending the day with the Carters.

We followed up our cerebral stop with capitalism in fine form at Lenox Square – an indoor mall in the city that boasts many very high-end stores like Balenciaga, Carolina Herrera, Tiffany & Co., Marc Jacobs, and Prada. We didn’t purchase anything (big surprise), but it was wonderful people watching and walking!


My brothers and I were raised with a love of sports, especially football. It was no surprise that my brother Sean became a high school football coach – he loves the sport, is extremely knowledgeable, and loves to coach and to develop his players on and off the field. Friday nights on my ATL trips are set aside for Friday Night Lights and my brother’s team taking the field. The Knights didn’t take the W, but Sean was pleased with their effort at this outing.

Stone marker in front of football field.
Entrance to the football field for the Community Christian Knights.
high school football game
My brother Sean (second from left) loves coaching high school football.

Saturday is set aside for college football (go Notre Dame, Mizzou, and Georgia!). But Sunday is probably my favorite day of football because it’s the quintessential Bruce Family activity – yelling at the TV and commiserating over the play calling of our favorite teams (Falcons and Chiefs are at the top of that list, of course). We also love channel hopping since several of us around the TV are involved in the same two Fantasy Football Leagues.

While we may be couch potatoes for the greater part of two days, the laughter, shouting, and strategizing only deepen my affection for my brothers as we build more memories together.


Shortly after Bob and I arrived in Atlanta Thursday, we celebrated with a birthday dinner (a day early) at a local restaurant, Sam & Rosco’s. We loved every bite of our meal, but our warm and attentive service caused me to compose a Yelp review as soon as we got back to the car. We gave it four stars!

Making food for one another and eating together is a Bruce Family love language. Sean invested a lot of time and heart grilling bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, a Boston Butt pork shoulder, and burnt ends. His proteins were accompanied by his wife Jan’s famous mac and cheese, baked beans with ground turkey, and deviled eggs. And I was the glad recipient of a homemade pumpkin spice birthday cake!

Of course, there were plenty of leftovers for Sunday’s games – with my brother Scott bringing our family’s traditional homemade birthday cake – a Tunnel of Fudge cake (a throwback to our 1970s childhood).

These foods and the fellowship surrounding our meals tie our past to our present in such a lovely way. And I know Sean, Scott, and I appreciate that our spouses and kids understand, respect, and enjoy these times together.


For our annual visits, we are fortunate to see nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and -nephews. They don’t all live in the same town as my brothers, so I appreciate so much that they carve time out of their busy lives to see us for a day or two.

Loved spending time with Seany > Brooklynn > Jan, Bo & Sean > Brooklynn, Erin & Charlie > and Harrison.

This time with extended family is time well spent. Reminiscing with my brothers about people, places, and moments from our shared history makes me happy and grateful that there are others who have always known me and that we know how far we’ve all come.

These moments and conversations are ones that I cannot have with anyone else. What we share is special. I’m so grateful for our love for one another and how we seamlessly connect our past to our present in a meaningful way.

How do you keep your extended family connections strong?

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1 Comment

Sep 22, 2023

Didn’t realize you were there on your big day. How wonderful! Great tradition you have ❤️

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