I don’t write happy Thanksgiving columns, which is why you didn’t hear a peep from me before Thursday’s turkey blood bath.
It’s not that I’m unappreciative of all that life has bestowed on me, but it’s unseemly to celebrate one’s good fortune. Isn’t that kinda like bragging?
There are folks out there who are dealing with all kinds of miseries. For me to pen a gratuitous dose of good cheer just might be enough to push them over the edge, and I don’t mean in a good way.
So I bottled it up last week. I may have glowed a bit, but you didn’t hear me say why. For all you knew, I had a low-grade fever.
Or maybe I was excited about the rain. After what this state has been going through, California really can’t get enough.
Or maybe I was drunk on autumn leaves. That can happen. An unassuming ginkgo suddenly goes crazy yellow and it’s all you can do not to lose control of your car on a drive-by.
But my glow wasn’t the rain or the leaves. Cheryl knew what was going on. She watched me max out on euphoria last Saturday, then take days to return to my everyday borderline cranky, high-anxiety self.
What blasted me into a higher orbit — what always does — is my annual 10K race in Davis. Being a non-athlete, I get phenomenally pumped for Turkey Trot the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Not to overstate things, but it’s my Olympic moment.
How did Turkey Trot go this year? Splendidly. I overcame a side ache at the end of mile one and at the finish I nearly vomited, but really, I was fine and bounced back within a minute.
The race left me suffused with a profound sense of well-being. I hadn’t blown out any body parts. I was only seconds slower per mile than the year before. In short, I hadn’t disgraced myself.
Cheryl, who had run the 5K, was equally positive about her participation. We normally are such homebodies, but look at us — running with the college kids in Davis!
That night and the night afterward, when I’d normally be tossing at 2 and 3 a.m. with my customary laundry list of life’s minor concerns, I slept like a baby.
During wake-ups I’d think, “You did it, Courtney,” and feel all fuzzy inside.
I’d also think, “You don’t have to race again for another year.” That thought made me fuzzy as well.
By Monday, my mind began moving on. Instead of Turkey Trot, I began thinking of how Cheryl and I — for 14 months, garage dwellers — were going to host a Thanksgiving feast for Cheryl’s adult sons.
In the house, our new kitchen was ready, but not quite. Every appliance was untested, every drawer and cabinet empty. Worker men still prowled.
I suggested that we celebrate Thanksgiving as we did last year, with turkey parts roasted in the tabletop oven that we’ve installed beside the garage work bench.
Better yet, forget the turkey parts and do something non-traditional — something that can be cooked on an electric skillet, the mainstay of our garage existence.
Cheryl was not convinced. Why would we cobble together a meal in the garage when a gleaming, new gas-electric stove sat ready to go in the new kitchen?
How do we even know it works? I said. Do you want to smear the oven with turkey splatter right out of the box?
My objections were not persuasive. The next day Cheryl brought home a 15-pound fresh turkey. Her new oven was going to get a workout.
This is how I went into Thanksgiving thinking of myself as an exceptionally fortunate man.
I had a spouse with holiday spunk. I had a real stove with an oven that can handle a full-size bird. I had family coming to share a feast.
And I successfully trotted my Turkey Trot.