America 2017: Day Thirty-Four (23 November)

Fast, on a rough road riding
High, through the mountains climbing
twisting, turning further from my home.
Young, like a new moon rising
Fierce, through the rain and lightning
Wandering out into this great unknown.

And I don’t want no one to cry.
But, tell ’em if I don’t survive
I was born free!


– Robert Ritchie

Thursday 23 November

Arlington Heights, IL

Stick with me a second whilst I extoll the virtues of Thanksgiving. Imagine Christmas, without the hassle of gifts, and that’s what you’ve got. Originally a harvest festival, the holiday (celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November) has morphed into a day of family, friends, food…and, dare I say it, football. I love the sentiment of thankfulness, and the importance of togetherness and family, especially in the current global climate. Australia managed to latch onto Halloween, but Thanksgiving has never stuck. Wish it could be the other way around.

How important is the day, and the concept of being with friends or family – or someone on Thanksgiving? A guy I follow on Twitter, who is an Indianapolis radio personality and an IndyCar announcer, tweeted out an invitation a couple of days back, offering anyone in Indy who didn’t have family around to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently he’s been doing it for years, and I think it’s a wonderful offer.

Thanksgiving is my favourite day to be in America, bar none. We started off early, waking up at 5:30am, to head over to Naperville, where the local Lions Club runs a 5km Turkey Trot. 2017 is their twentieth year, and now there seems to be Turkey Trots everywhere across the country. It’s a good idea: get out and run hard early, and eat as much as you can later in the day with zero guilt.

It was just on freezing when we headed off at 8:00am, with about 8000 of our closest friends all around. Dad and I ran, Mum and Nathan walked. I’m told they set a brisk pace. The course was flat, and fast, and, despite the cold, I loved it. It’s a great community event, and as is normal in the Chicagoland area, I saw many different hats and jackets from dozens of pro and college teams – Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, the Cubs, White Sox, Hawks, Bears…the list goes on – as well as people dressed up as turkey, Santa Claus, reindeers, and even some people wearing pumpkin pie hats. A really fun event, with a pancake breakfast included post-race, and I recommend the concept if you’re ever here at this time of the year.

For the record:

Andrew: 23min 40sec

Robert: 32min 25sec

Wendy: 51min 44sec

Nathan: 51min 49sec

This year, we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Mike and Jane’s house over in Wheaton, and it was a sensational evening. The food was amazing, the beer was cold, and the company, as is always the case with these guys, was stellar.  Special thanks to Ivana and Jane, who prepared one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. As appears to be tradition on Thanksgiving, I didn’t go home even the slightest bit hungry.

Tomorrow is Black Friday, which is a huge shopping day in America – think our version of Boxing Day, but before Christmas, which makes some sense, given you get all your Christmas shopping done with savings! – and also a giant day for college football, flowing over into an even bigger Saturday. So, there’s something for everyone.

So much love for everyone in this photo.

If you like football, this is your weekend. There are games from 11:00am through 1:00am (or later) both tomorrow and Saturday, featuring border or in-state rivalries like Washington-Washington State, Virginia Tech-Virginia, and the big one, Michigan-Ohio State, which they’ve been playing since the 1890s.

With “Indiana” Mike

We’re having brunch with the Rovik’s and heading out to do some walking after that. I’m gonna need to walk a lot to work off all the food I’m eating.

Post-dinner, relaxing on the couch, watching football.

Night all!

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