I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper. Too disorganized, for one thing. I have NO idea what anyone wants for Christmas this early. Nor do I have the cash with which to buy anything, as overfilling my shopping cart with Mr. Turkey and fixings has usually wiped me out. And if I do manage to figure out my loved ones’ hearts’ desires—and squirrel away the funds to make their holiday dreams come true—they want esoteric things Walmart and Target just ain’t got. These days, with all the kids but Julie out of their teens, the gift of choice anyway is money to pay their electric bills and maybe a little extra for Ramen noodles.
So how do the Seyfrieds bond on the day after Thanksgiving? Traditionally, weather permitting, everyone but me troops out to a state park for a vigorous hike. These adventures (I’ve seen the photos) involve endless trails through the forest, steep and slippery climbs to scenic overlooks. Traditionally, I stay behind, alone with my leftover pie, and wait to be regaled when my weary, but happy, family returns.
For some reason, this year they convinced me to join them for a trip to Evansburg State Park. Maybe I’d finally had enough pie. Maybe I was just acutely conscious of how rare our time together truly is. In any event, there I was, at trail’s beginning, obvious newbie to the rugged outdoor life: pristine white sneakers, too many layers, no water bottle and no clue. My husband had been there before, and confidently led the way. As I huffed and puffed, bringing up the rear, Steve tossed off the fact that we were embarking on a 5 mile, 2 ½ hour “walk.” Too late to retreat—I’d never find my way back to the car anyway. So on I marched, until the first slight incline, when I fell. My hope that my stumble would elicit enough pity to cut the hike short then and there, was dashed when PJ just broke off a tree branch and handed it to me as a walking stick. OK, so this is how it was gonna be—no coddling for Mom, the Mom who had given painful birth to these wretched unsympathetic children!
The next two hours plus featured: Mud. Mud under fallen leaves, mud hidden beneath the grass, mud right out there in the open. And, of course, mud caked on my formerly pristine white sneakers. It was so bad that Fearless Leader Dad finally caved and let us trek the final mile or so off the trail and on a beautifully dry and civilized paved road. My kind of nature at last! Street signs! Lawns! And, at long last, the parking lot where our car awaited to whisk us home! Home to pie! But also, home, this time, to laugh and remember—all of us, together—our state park adventure. A Black Friday with my wonderful family that no amount of money could ever buy.