Ideas for your 2015 Thanksgiving – Including Historic High School Football!

Sometimes we forget it, but kids can remind us: Thanksgiving is more than just stuffing yourself with turkey and pie and loosening your belt to watch football. In actual fact, it’s pretty easy to teach your children the meaning of Thanksgiving when you live in New England. A number of historical sites bring this heritage to life, and there are beautiful outdoor spaces where you can connect with your family and the natural world.

This year, introduce your family to Thanksgiving, past and present. In an effort to please your entire family, we’ve also included some ideas for high school football outings–which is an equally great way to get out of the house and introduce the little people to aspects of the Thanksgiving tradition.

POINTS NORTH

For those who don’t want to drive from the North Shore to the South Shore to get their historical reenactment fix on Thanksgiving day, bring the kids to the Parson Capen House in Topsfield!  The Topsfield Historical Society invites one and all to the annual Thanksgiving Open House at Parson Capen House in Topsfield, MA on Thanksgiving day. Your family will meet the Barretts, who greet guests in period dress, roast a turkey in the open fireplace, and generously offer hot and cold cider and popcorn as refreshments. Admission is free; donations are accepted. The Parson Capen House is one of the finest surviving example of Elizabethan architecture in America. For more information: Boston Central.

There’s no better way to say Thanks then to take your family on a walk in the great outdoors. For Dana Rousmaniere, author of our upcoming title North Shore Baby, coming up with fantastic possibilities on Boston’s North Shore was a no-brainer. Her picks for Thanksgiving day would include Ward Reservation in Andover.

What makes the Ward Reservation a special place? Well, you and your family can climb a hill for great views extending from the surrounding Merrimack Valley to the Boston skyline or explore the sprawling landscape along almost 10 miles of trails. Trails link three major hills – Shrub, Boston, and Holt. The “Solstice Stones” mark the grassy summit of Holt Hill, the highest point in Essex County. This compass-like arrangement of stones indicates the cardinal points on the compass, the points of the summer and winter solstices, and the points of the spring and autumnal equinoxes. 

At the base of Holt Hill, step onto a boardwalk that leads to Pine Hole Pond to walk across a rare quaking bog, comprised of concentric rings of floating vegetation. Keep in mind that with almost 10 miles of trails, many are considered easy-to-moderate hiking, and described as strenuous in places. Ward Reservation is open year-round, 8am to sunset. Give yourself a minimum of 2 hours to explore—plenty of time while the turkey cooks! For more information, visit the Ward Reservation Website.

 

POINTS SOUTH

There’s probably no better place to celebrate America’s most beloved holiday than at our very own Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II. It’s like going to the North Pole on Christmas. This is a favorite for Kim Foley MacKinnon, author of Boston Baby, who says that the museum is alive with energy on Thanksgiving. Join visitors from all around the world make the pilgrimage to the site of the first holiday! For more information, visit the Plimoth Plantation website.

For an outdoor excursion that’s still close to the city, look no further than the Blue Hills Reservation. Located only minutes from the bustle of downtown Boston, the DCR Blue Hills Reservation stretches for 7,000 acres across Quincy to Dedham, Milton to Randolph. Rising above the horizon, Great Blue Hill reaches a height of 635 feet, the highest of the 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain. From the rocky summit visitors can see over the entire metropolitan area.  The Blue Hills were named by early European explorers who, while sailing along the coastline, noticed the bluish hue on the slopes. More than ten thousand years before those Europeans arrived, Native Americans made their home in the hills. The Natives referred to themselves as Massachusett, or “people of the great hills”. Eventually the Europeans began settling in this region. The colonists built houses and barns, cleared fields for crops and livestock and logged the hillsides for lumber.

The heritage of the Reservation seems to make this a perfect place for a family traipse on Thanksgiving day—but the trails aren’t so shabby either. There are plenty of options for a variety of abilities in your home. Families with pee-wee hikers will want to stick to the yellow dot trails, which tend to be shorter loops. No matter what, download a copy of the trail map before you go. The Visitor Center will be closed on Thanksgiving, but with a map you should have no problem locating the proper trailhead into your chosen path. For more information, visit the Blue Hills Website.

 

POINTS WEST

Having Thanksgiving west of Boston? Go back in time at the historic Sturbridge Village, where you and your family can experience the traditions of an early 19th century New England Thanksgiving. Visit village households for the mouth-watering aroma of Thanksgiving feasts in preparation and discover Native American foodways and their own unique Thanksgiving connections. Also, make sure you visit the Indian Doctress, who will be sharing Native Traditions of giving thanks. For  more information, visit the Old Sturbridge Village Website.

Although the nature center will be closed on Thanksgiving day as well as the Friday following, the trails at Wachusett Meadow will remain open. (Located just a short drive from the Wachusett Mountain Resort.) Work up an appetite as you traverse over twelve miles of trails that will take you through vast meadows, woodlands, and wetlands. Brown Hill Summit, South Wachusett Brook, and Glacial Boulder are highlights among many other features. For more information, visit the Wachusett Meadow Sanctuary website.

It’s a big year for Local High School football!

On Wednesday, Nov. 25th  (the day before Thanksgiving) there will be a Catholic Conference doubleheader. St. John’s Prep will play Xaverian at approximately 4 pm. BC High facines Catholic Memorial at 7 pm.

On Thanksgiving day, Fenway will host two of the oldest rivalries in the nation: Wellesley will play Needham at 9 am, followed by Boston Latin v. Boston English at 12:30. Needham-Wellesley first squared off in 1882. Latin-English remains the oldest continuous Thanksgiving rivalry, starting in 1887, playing every year since.

This is ramping up to be some of the best action that day, so get your tickets early! Find ticket information here.