Photo: Rosanne Cerri in her back yard.

Over the past few years my family has developed a tradition of taking a long walk outside on Thanksgiving morning. While my husband, a photographer, is covering the football game for the Mariner, my dad, mom, sister and I choose an open space area to explore by foot. Our extended family is quite small these days, and since we don’t have to fuss over preparing a large meal or entertaining out of town guests, we have the luxury of taking a couple hours to get some fresh air before the serious winter chill sets in. We’ve gone to World’s End, the Daniel Webster Sanctuary in Marshfield, and this year we were planning to visit the Jacob’s Pond Conservation Area in Norwell.

I was a little concerned that we might not be able to take our walk when the snow started to fall the day before Thanksgiving. The trails at Jacobs Pond are narrow, often steep, and in some places thick with roots – not the ideal place to walk when there is snow and ice on the ground. Then my sister, who lives in Western Massachusetts, phoned to say that she would be working late Wednesday night and would not be coming into town until early Thursday afternoon. She said she’d uphold the family tradition by taking her own walk before she left for Marshfield. My parents and I planned to meet at 11 the next day.

But at nine o’clock Thursday morning, my mother called to see if rather than going for a walk, I wouldn’t mind accompanying my parents to Braintree, where some very close friends were having their new swimming pool installed. They wanted me to bring my video camera.

My father is a construction supervisor and salesman for a gunite (air-applied concrete) swimming pool company. Thanksgiving is considered a holiday in the pool world just as it is in any other business in this country, so you would expect it to be a day off. However the gunite crew employed by this company in particular hails from Mexico, where they have their own holidays. For them, Thanksgiving is not a big deal, especially considering that in the first week in December they fly home for the winter. For these guys, Thanksgiving is just another day to get some work done.

Any reasonable person might assume that if you were waiting to have gunite applied to a giant hole in your backyard, that it would not be likely to occur at seven o’clock on Thanksgiving morning, especially when there were three inches on snow on the ground. But that’s just what our friends woke up to find – concrete mixing trucks in the driveway and six guys in coveralls scrambling around the backyard. Seeing as they were expecting a crowd for dinner, and in the meantime had lots of work to do around the house, you can imagine just how thrilled they were.

So phone calls were made, and my dad, being the great guy that he is, decided that combining a construction site visit with a holiday get-together with friends might be just the right way to spend our Thanksgiving morning. I still don’t know how they managed to talk me into going with them.

Surprisingly, it all turned out okay. While my dad made sure everything was going well with the gunite work, my mom and I chronicled the event with our respective cameras. If anything, we provided a much-needed distraction for our friends who were more than a little bit stressed.

And I got to have my walk after all. When the gunite application became less than interesting, and the grown-ups went inside for coffee, the eleven-year-old of the house invited me to explore the trails in her backyard. It wasn’t quite the two-hour Thanksgiving walk I was accustomed to, but the emotional effect was the same. I got some fresh air, got to spend time with a good friend (in this case a fun and charming young lady, teetering on the edge of adolescence), and even got to visit a new open space area — a forest of snow-encrusted trees, softly illuminated by the morning light.

It wasn’t a typical Thanksgiving, but it was certainly a good one.

by Kezia Bacon Bernstein, Correspondent
November 2002

Kezia Bacon Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168.