Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Our family has had the tradition for several years of entering the local annual ‘turkey chase’, now in its 29th year. My wife, little daughter, and I got up early as usual this year and headed out for a 7am start; the rest of the household decided that they would stay at home and organize the start of the day’s cooking. The morning was freezing, but clear and sunny. The only problem was that the event was not due to start until near 9am. I meandered around and looked at the various stations being set up and then we had quality time talking in the car.
We watched people getting ready, and as always people watching can be so much fun. We got the best laugh from watching a man prepare his baseball cap, ahead of his run, as if he were a pitcher. He adjusted it almost a dozen times, smoothing the back of his head, taking it off and putting it on again, then deciding to throw it into the car and not bothering to wear it.
They got the runners for the 10K lined up and started, and then got the walkers and runners organized for the 2 mile run. My little daughter and I decided at the last moment that we would run, instead of walk. We sidled up toward the front of the groups and started with the first batch of runners. My daughter was dress against wintry conditions, not really for running, and her heavy coat soon became a burden. Cue Dad to carry that. The loot bag she had picked up from a baseball team booth had been placed on her back, and was beginning to bother her. Cue Dad, again, to carry that.
We got to the one mile mark and weariness was showing on my child’s face; more than an occasional groan was coming forward. I tried to find the right words and tone to inspire her to keep going. I held her hand and tried to run stride for stride with her. The hills that were part of the course were not steep, but hard work for her little legs. We reached the 1.5 mile mark and sweat was now streaming down her face. I knew she had a little energy left because she could not resist running through piles of leaves that had been heaped on the kerb side. I figured that I could keep her going by running just a few yards behind her rather than alongside and kept that position for most of the last half mile.
I saw another marker post and knew that we had one more turn to go until the last stretch. “Keep going! You can do it!” I urged. “No, I can’t!” she yelled. “Yes, you can. You can,” I told her one more time. I could see the balloon arch marking the finish line and it was about 200 yards away. “Keep going till the finish,” I said. She looked ahead and took the inspiration. Alongside, another father was telling his son that they would just be outside 20 minutes; I had not even thought about time. I saw the computer clock and as we reached the finish line, 22 minutes 22 seconds. “What a great run! I’m so proud of you,” I told my little daughter as we passed the balloons. I gave her a big hug. She came back with a stream of complaints as I showed her how to stretch her legs and arms for a few minutes, while we waited for her mother to arrive, which she did about 10 minutes later. Her mother gave our daughter more soothing words, which helped her get past the feelings of fatigue that were rising.
We walked to find water and bananas for a quick refreshment, but also found naked pizza, not what I would have suggested for breakfast, but too tempting to refuse. That put a huge smile on my child’s face.
When we got back home, we explained why we were about two hours later than expected. Cooking for Thanksgiving dinner was underway, and the turkey was being roasted. My wife–the food organizer in chief–had already prepared last evening a cranberry pepper jelly and a lemon curd cheese cake. Our little daughter had helped peel sweet potatoes last night. Her grandmother, visiting from The Bahamas, already had macaroni and cheese prepared. Her grandaunt, also visiting from Nassau, was going to make her signature peas and rice. My wife had the other troops, in the shape of our older daughters, gearing up to produce a sweet potato casserole and roasted Brussels sprouts and pancetta, and chopping pecans. I was in charge of appetite, which started early and would need to be maintained for a long time :-).
My father and his care giver were not with us, but we brought them in by placing a video conference call on Skype so that everyone here could share greetings with them. We will be joined later by some friends who would probably be on their own over the holiday.
Big holidays such as this are special if they start well, and we had a great beginning to the day. Such days are also special if you can manage to get family and friends together and enjoy being under the one roof.