For years, we had this crazy race on Thanksgiving morning called the Turkey Trot. My husband and his running pal, John, thought it up, possibly under the influence of…something. There was a theme each year, and runners came in costume. For example, "Your Favorite American Place" (I came as the gates of Graceland) and "Your Favorite American Freedom" (I came as the pen that signed the Declaration of IndePENdence.) Rock n’ Roll blasted from a boom-box. We served cheap champagne. I took around trays of powdered donuts and brand X cigarettes. There was a fabulous pageant, too: everybody stood on our porch and sang “Old Mr. Turkey” at the top of their lungs. Very professional. Following, my husband gave a convoluted description of the course, hoping that if the good runners got lost he could win. One year, he wore a pink skirt and wig and ran as a girl, figuring he could at least win that division. He didn’t. (All of which was a moot point anyway, since the winner was drawn from a hat—and presented with a recycled trophy whose engraved plate said “Turkey Drot,” preserving the tradition of the first year’s misspelling.)
Next, we all gathered in the street for the Blessing of the Shoes. This was done by Kelly Flynn (a.k.a Father O’Flynn), who dressed up like a Catholic priest and rambled on forever evoking the aid of every powerful deity he could think of, first and foremost, Notre Dame. One year the weather was crummy so we rented a Port-a-John and put it in the front yard so people wouldn’t track through the house. Of course, nobody used it. So we put it on the back of Steve’s truck and used it to lead the race. That was one of my favorite Trots; another was when my sister and I saw an empty hearse at a stoplight and talked the driver into dropping us off at the finish line.
Everyone loved the Turkey Trot! Thanksgiving is such a great holiday anyway—no hype, no presents to buy—just a great meal with people you love. So the Trot was a perfect way to begin. I did forget to put the turkey in one year. That was kind of a problem. I remembered it about a mile into the race and probably ran faster than I’d ever run before to get home and stick it in the oven. We ate a little late, but so what?
In time, the Trot ran its course (pun intended), and we moved on to other absurdities. I miss it on Thanksgiving morning, though. Of course, we videotaped for posterity! Maybe I’ll get those out and watch them on this cold, rainy, windy morning.
Happy Turkey! (Or tofurkey, whatever the case may be.)