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Twas the night before Thanksgiving

and all time is spent

preparing for tomorrow

when we sleep in our tent.

During the week of Thanksgiving I’m invariably asked what our family plans are.  Like many, we get together with our family for a HUGE Thanksgiving luncheon with 50 of our kin, eating too much good food, and playing a little Turkey Day football to burn off a few of those calories.  But we’ve ended the Thanksgiving holiday with an overnight camping trip along the river for as long as many can remember.

It began casually enough as a chance to camp on a beautiful Thanksgiving evening.  My brother and I liked to camp, and we had the perfect spot laid out along the river where by grandfather had farm land.  We camped along the level space near his old boat launch and listened to the water ripple by as we sat around the blazing campfire until we were tired enough to go to bed.

Nearly a year later we “re-upped” to do it again… and so a tradition was born.  Soon we had other cousins and kids joining us to see what all the talk was about.  And while each person may come for different reasons, each leaves with a smile on their face.

So what have we learned from all these years of camping the night of Thanksgiving?  Here’s a quick summary:

  • Every year brings different weather.  50 degree temps will allow you to be awed by all the beauty God created.  20 degree temps will remind you quickly about the blessing of a warm bed, blankets, and a roof to sleep under.
  • Cows are sneakier than you think.  They can creep up on you with the silent approach of a deadly ninja.  And shining your flashlight into the open eyes of 15-20 of them will likely make you scream like a girl.
  • There is something about sitting around a campfire under a sky full of stars that both humbles and amazes you.  The sounds and smells of nature weave an wonderful tapestry for us to crave and experience.
  • When you tell Sasquatch stories around a campfire until 11pm any sound within 30 yards will spook you.  If a passing beaver on the river slaps his tail near your camp, you’ve got a 90% chance of convincing all the kids that he’s just jumped in for a swim.
  • Nothing puts a damper on camping in a tent more than a strong wind and a pouring rain.  No wait… actually, 2am food poisoning from Thanksgiving leftovers trumps both of those.
  • Sure, warming your feet around the fire is preferable to cold toes.  But buying new shoes because you melted the soles off your tennis shoes may be taking it too far.
  • There are 3 types of people.  People who don’t camp.  Fair weather campers who hang in there until it gets rough.  And idiots who stick it out when ice is forming on the inside of the tent.
  • Do we take a break for Black Thursday/Friday shopping? Um…. No.
  • What’s the best way to end a night of camping?  Breakfast at a local diner with the whole gang.  Then a nice warm shower at home.

And the last thing I’ve learned?  The only experience better than your last Thanksgiving campout… is your next one.