Comfort from the indoors
December 2, 2014
In years past, I've generally given thanks on the holiday along the trout-rich waters of either the Fryingpan or Roaring Fork rivers. Taken as a whole, fly-fishers tend to be a group of misfits, the worst of which prefer to be out on the rivers soaking up the solitude while everybody else is indoors next to the fireplace sipping libations after turkey and a football game. There's just something special about knowing that while everybody else is indoors, we're outdoors.
My parents and siblings all live along the Front Range, and it's been a few years since I've spent a proper Thanksgiving with all of us together as a unified family. Instead of the usual mountain-man, wild game smorgasbord of ungulates, waterfowl, fish and mushrooms spent with the boys, I slowly and lovingly ate my mother's turkey, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts and pumpkin pie.
Traditions like this are comforting for me. I can close my eyes and smell my mother's cooking, see my father partaking in his usual nap after dinner and hear the rummaging of my nieces, nephews and daughter playing games upstairs. One of my fondest Thanksgiving memories was not spent on the river but on the turf with my family under the lights of the Silverdome in Detroit.
It was here that I competed in the state championship for the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick football skills competition during halftime of the Lions and Packers Thanksgiving game when I was youngster. I grew up in a football household where Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeye football were religion. I don't so much remember the outcome as much as I do the day itself: the lights, the television cameras, the crowd, the noise and the players themselves. I'll never forget watching Hall of Famers Barry Sanders run the ball or Reggie White sack the quarterback. My parents will never forget when I met ex-Ohio State Buckeye, then-Detroit Lions linebacker, Chris Spielman, and got his autograph with a highlighter (long story).
I've never been much of a big-city type guy, but when Thanksgiving approaches and time allows, I feel it's perfectly acceptable to not be the outsider going fishing, but instead the fisherman spending time with his family rekindling the memories of our youth. There, I said it. It's OK for me to wimp out for once.