Thanksgiving in New Hampshire means tradition, family and Turkey Trots

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, full of tradition, family and happy memories.  This year was no let down.

From Turkey Trot to Turkey dinner, Christmas decorating and more, this year’s holiday weekend was a much needed break from the daily grind and a chance to recharge and have some fun.

Thanksgiving morning the family woke with the sun, we donned our running gear and headed out the door for the first of our Turkey Day rituals: the Greater Derry Track Club Turkey Trot 5K.  This year was the 40th anniversary of the race and the crowd was as big as ever, with 1,248 runners!  The GDTC does a great job organizing this race and the course is very beautiful as it rolls along the shores of Beaver Lake in Derry, NH.

RunningLegsThe whole family took part for the first time this year, with both of my sons running.  Julia and I both had good showings, she took 3rd overall woman (and won a turkey) and I set a new PR of 17:50.  My oldest cut minutes off his previous time on the course and Julia’s sister walked the course with the little guy.  My in-laws always come out to cheer and it’s great to see them at the finish.  A great time was had by all.

After the race, it’s always a whirlwind of prep work in the kitchen.  This year we whipped up a crock pot full of butternut squash risotto and a sticky toffee pecan pudding cake to take to the brother-in-law’s place.  Dinner was a flash of settling the kids in and fellowshipping over a huge spread of traditional turkey and stuffing.

ThanksgivingFootball

After the meal, we headed outdoors with the kiddos to throw around the football and avoid the post-dinner energy slump, just like I remember doing as a kid.  I’m thankful that my kids get to do many of the same things (and more) that I enjoyed growing up.  Following the football foray, we headed in for some pie and some early gift swapping.

Of course, the long weekend is a nice treat and this year the weather has been good (if not a tad cold) and I’ve scored a few nice trail runs.  I am thankful to have witnessed this particular vista from the north end of Tower Hill Pond in Auburn, NH, as the sun came over the horizon.

The sun rises as the moon shines over Tower Hill Pond.

The sun rises as the moon shines over Tower Hill Pond on a frigid November morning.

DerryParadeSantaAnother great tradition for us is the Christmas Parade.  We attend the one in Derry with Julia’s parents and always end up running into old friends.  I particularly enjoy the marching bands and the show they put on and the kids anxiously await Mr. and Mrs. Clause, who ride in the fire truck at the tail end of the parade

Noel's Tree Farm

Noel’s Tree Farm

All these traditions and activities are great, but I think my favorite Thanksgiving weekend occurrence is the Christmas decorating.  Each year, we start this by heading to Noel’s Tree Farm in Litchfield, NH, for our Christmas tree.  The farm is a fantastic little place, complete with cut-your-own, fires for warming and marshmallow roasting, tractor rides, a tree maze and, for the first time this year, fireworks!  The staff is always very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable.  This year they guided us to a new variety of tree, a concolor, which has long, soft needles and a lemony scent.  After getting it home, setting it up and stringing the lights, we enjoyed a quiet family morning of adorning the house in celebration of the birth of the Christ-child.

And that, when it really gets down to it, is the whole point of this season of thankfulness, decoration, family, lights and gift giving.  It’s a celebration and reflection of the wonderful gifts bestowed on us by the Father.

So, during this season of thanksgiving, I am thankful for the blessing of my family, our traditions and the wonderful memories we continue to make each and every day, and the love of God and His influence in our lives.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, too!  What are some of your favorite traditions and memories?

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