My friend Doug and I have developed a Thanksgiving tradition over the past few years. Every Thanksgiving morning, as a large portion of the population is beginning Thanksgiving dinner preparations, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, participating in ‘turkey trots,’ or attending high school football games, we head to the crag for a few hours of climbing.
The Thanksgiving morning climbing ritual has served a few purposes: It has kept me from going out with friends the night before and getting crazy (I have actually eaten Thanksgiving dinner every year that we have climbed; I cannot say I was so fortunate in the preceding years). Climbing in the morning makes it feel like I did something with the day other than eat. Lastly, the holidays can be stressful and nothing is better at fighting stress than exercise. Also, in my case I work retail so after Thanksgiving my life becomes hectic and the opportunities for me to get out and climb with friends shrink as my professional obligations take priority.
Over the last few years we have talked many different people into attending the Thanksgiving morning climb. What started off as Doug and I has grown and changed every year. So far we have had different people attend each year and the location of the climbing has changed as well to accommodate people on their way to their Thanksgiving dinners. We have also had as many people bail from the climbing as have attended. Many cite the early start or cold temperatures as their reason for not attending (Mickey Spades).
This year the climbing tradition seemed to be in jeopardy as Doug and I could not get our schedules and locations to coordinate. I even suggested calling off climbing this time, but after a little finagling we decided to meet at Hammond Pond and boulder for a few hours in the morning. I am glad Doug was persistent in climbing Thanksgiving morning; as the years of this tradition have begun to add up, morning climbing feels as important as watching football and eating Thanksgiving dinner. Also, I find it almost as important to spend time with my climbing family as well as my real family.
The spirit of Thanksgiving is to recognize what we are thankful for. I am thankful that I have experienced a great climbing season that has been injury, accident, and incident free. I am also grateful for the many great experiences I had over the year, the interesting places I have visited, and the fantastic people who have been a part of them. Thanksgiving climbing makes me appreciate how great this sport has been to me and the many people it has brought into my life.
Thanks to Doug, Eric, Faye, and Denali for showing up to another great morning of Thanksgiving climbing. It is a great morning that is all about spending time with each other, enjoying each other’s company, and maybe even getting a proud send.