The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. The delectable food we currently associate with everyone’s favorite Thursday did not grace that very first table, but early-day ball playing and singing are thought to have been enjoyed by the Wampanoags and English settlers while they waited patiently for their feast of corn and roast meat to begin. We may not indulge in the same foods as the first Thanksgiving celebrants, but sports, music and other fun activities still fill the holiday’s early hours for many families. Setting the table can wait. Here are some enjoyable ways to spend Thanksgiving morning.
Trot Like a Turkey
Five and 10K turkey trot run/walks take place in many local towns and communities on Thanksgiving morning. Most of these support worthwhile charities or public works and many include a free, one-mile kid’s dash, so the entire family can burn some early morning calories while having a great time together outdoors.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year at food banks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. It is also a day when many individuals put the spirit of volunteerism into action, by giving of their time to serve up a hot meal and a smile to those who need it most. Find out ahead of time where your help will do the most good, be it at a shelter or other, off-the-beaten-path locale. Consider holding a free turkey drive at a school in an impoverished neighborhood, bringing home-baked cookies to a nursing home or hosting a sing-along at a local hospice.
Football and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. Cheering on your favorite team may be your favorite turkey-day sport, but this year, try corralling the entire family into a friendly game of early morning touch football in the backyard or a local park. If you want to leave the pigskin to the pros, opt for softball, relay races or volleyball instead.
Enjoy a Parade
Nothing may be more American than apple pie, but Thanksgiving Day parades come pretty close. And it does not have to be hosted by Macy’s to be epic. Local parades dot the landscape from coast to coast, featuring floats, balloons, neighborhood groups and marching high school bands. Enjoy from the sidelines, or find out how your group can participate.
Bring all of the kids and other guests together to join in on some of the cooking and decorating. Have the cousins you only see once a year work on designing the centerpiece and others create a draw-and-sign Wish You Were Here card, for relatives who could not make the trip. Some guests can experiment with new ingredients to drop into cookies and others can share their stuffing secret. Bringing everyone together to create a piece of Thanksgiving creates a warm atmosphere and provides an easy going way to fold newcomers and old friends into the festivities.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.