Gather Together with Thankful Hearts

A cornucopia of post-Thanksgiving supper activities

It’s 6 AM Thanksgiving Day. General mayhem ensues as the day’s festivities commence. Food preparation and house cleaning are the order of the morning in anticipation of the big meal. In the course of this high-energy ritual, someone asks, “What are we doing AFTER we eat today?” For some, the answer will be a nap on the couch. The more health-conscious and socially engaged will seek something more active, fun, and engaging - something we can all do together. Maybe something outside? If the weather is not cooperative, what can we do inside to avoid being lured to the couch for a mid-afternoon nap?

Outside Activities

We are fortunate in the tidewater VA region to experience a relatively mild climate in late November, and easy-to-moderate outside activity options, weather permitting, are abundant. Below is a brief list of options.

·       Duke of Gloucester Street - Stroll down Colonial Williamsburg’s (CW) closed-to-vehicular-traffic Duke of Gloucester (DoG) Street and adjoining closed-to-traffic roads. The journey from William & Mary’s Wren Building to the Capitol is approximately one mile of pleasant scenery and easy walking on a paved street or brick walkway. It’s also wheelchair/scooter/bike accessible, which makes it a great option for everyone.

·       William & Mary Campus - A stroll around the William & Mary campus is another easily accessible, low impact, and enjoyable adventure. Start at the Wren Building and travel the brick walkways through campus.

·       Lake Matoaka Amphitheater – For another easy and short stroll, consider parking in the Mason School of Business parking lot at the corner of Ukrop Way and Jamestown Road. Walk to the right of Miller Hall to the path to the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater. The wooded path to Lake Matoaka is wheelchair/scooter accessible.

·       Lake Matoaka Trail – This 2.5-mile circuit trail runs along the east side of Lake Matoaka on the W&M campus. It is not wheelchair/scooter accessible and is a bit more rigorous. It is dog- and kid-friendly. See the alltrails.com site for more details.

·       Bassett Trace Nature Trail – This 3.3-mile circuit trail is not wheelchair/scooter/bike accessible. It is a moderate (not easy), well-marked trail requiring traversing significant inclines, downed trees, etc. Start at the eastern-most end of the Griffin Hotel parking lot and finish at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Green Course Clubhouse. Take the same trail back to the Griffin Hotel parking lot. See the alltrails.com site for more details.

·       Virginia Capital Trail – This 50.9-mile trail from the Jamestown Festival Park parking lot to Richmond is paved, wheelchair/scooter/bike accessible, dog friendly (on leash), and an easy walk or bike ride. Parking is plentiful at the Jamestown Festival Park parking lot. Go as far as you want and then turn around. See the alltrails.com site or the virginiacapitaltrail.org site for more details.

·       Waller Mill Park – The park is closed on Thanksgiving Day and the day after (11/26-27/2020) but is seasonally open from 8 AM-5 PM every day. Waller Mill Park is located at 901 Airport Road, Williamsburg and boasts six trails, four are rated “easy,” and two are rated “moderate” by alltrails.com. According to the Waller Mill website, “Our wooded hiking trails provide 6¼ miles of picturesque walking with water and wooded views. A two-mile asphalt bike trail offers a scenic connection between Mooretown and Rochambeau Roads. A short hike from the parking lot along the asphalt bike trail will bring you to the Lookout Tower, which offers a panoramic view of the water and woodlands.” There is a $2 per vehicle entrance fee. Trails map link: www.williamsburgva.gov/home/showdocument?id=8750

For a more comprehensive list of walking/hiking/biking options in our area, checkout the following links:

·       Williamsburg area: www.williamsburgva.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=801

·       Greater Peninsula region: www.alltrails.com/us/virginia/williamburg.

Inside activities

What if the weather doesn’t cooperate on Thanksgiving Day? You can easily avoid the old standbys of napping and TV-watching. If your goal is to engage with your visitors through conversation and interpersonal activities, consider some of the following options.

·       Board, card, and other traditional games – Younger folks may find this hard to believe, but there really was life before TV, streaming video, YouTube, video games, cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers. Many people have a stack of long-forgotten games stashed away in a closet, garage, basement, or attic. Legacy games like Life, Monopoly, Scrabble, Candyland, or Twister (caution is advised for the less limber among us) might be a fun trip back in time for everyone. Games like Jenga, Scattergories (if everyone can read), Cards Against Humanity (adults only!), a recent version of Trivial Pursuit, or any other current trivia games can be fun, challenging, engaging, and often very entertaining. Playing games causes everyone playing to focus on having fun while interacting with each other. And isn’t that why we all got together at Thanksgiving anyway? To maintain collegiality and friendships before starting any games, set some ground rules around the fact that it’s only a game. And remind Uncle Carl, who tends to hold a “take no prisoners” attitude when he plays, to be nice…because it’s a game, not a war!

Some fun old-school options include a chess or checkers match with Grandma (who everyone forgot was the chess and checkers champion at her high school in 1955 – yikes!). Card games like Hearts, Spades, Crazy Eights, and Rummy are particularly fun and easy for everyone to understand and play. Party games like Charades, Spoons, and Pictionary may be just what you need if you gave the board games away ten years ago, or they are hiding somewhere in storage. Perhaps a customized Holiday Word Scramble or a Thanksgiving-themed MadLibs tournament fits your group’s interests. Making up your own games can also be fun.

·       Puzzles – If you don’t have any jigsaw puzzles from 20 years ago, a trip through the toy section of Target or Walmart will reveal a large selection of jigsaw puzzles of varying levels of difficulty. Generally, puzzles with 500-1000 pieces can be completed on the dining room table between the afternoon Thanksgiving meal and bedtime. Kids of all ages (5-105) love to be involved in solving the mystery of what pieces go where. This activity also causes great conversation and can even be going on consecutively with a sporting event on television.

·       Old Fashioned Sing-Along – If you have a piano, keyboard, or guitar, and someone who can play, you’re in luck! Grab Aunt Ethel’s great American song book from the piano bench and have a sing-along. If you have the ability to project from your computer onto your TV, karaoke through YouTube is a great option. Or maybe you want to try some unaccompanied harmony singing. Hard? Yes. Fun and rewarding? Absolutely! Remember, the rule for sing-alongs, karaoke, and a cappella harmony singing is “no judgement allowed.” Everyone’s a star if they’re brave enough to participate.

·       Arts and Crafts – If someone in the group is skilled at leading arts and crafts activities, ask that person to plan a craft event. A quick search on Pinterest.com or Google.com for “arts and crafts ideas” reveals a plethora of fun activities for all ages.

So, there you have it - numerous after-Thanksgiving dinner activities to keep everyone moving, engaged, and away from the couch. Select some that might work for you and try them. Fun, conversation, and engagement with each other are guaranteed.

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