At Thanksgiving we have some traditions that include Harvest Festival games. Our Thanksgiving starts when the kids wake up in the morning to find the Pilgrim Village in the living room. It only comes out once a year for Thanksgiving and is put away again when the last leftovers are gone. It’s a little wooden log cabin with a set of pioneer figures (I never could find actual pilgrim figures) and a collection of farm animals that we add to each year. The kids are always eager to see what new animals have joined the farm each Thanksgiving, and I’m always amazed at their memories — they spot the new animals immediately, even with the Pioneer Village having being packed away since our last pumpkin pie was reduced to crumbs. This year we also added a set of Lincoln Logs and the kids spent a happy morning building Mayflowers out of Lincoln Logs and stocking their log vessels with animals and settlers from the Pilgrim Village — kind of a cross between Noah’s ark and New World settlement.
But whatever it is — ark or Mayflower or farm — it makes a great morning for keeping everyone occupied while I get busy in the kitchen commencing feast preparations. After the morning of pilgrim play, we move on to a leisurely brunch and then our Harvest Festival games. These vary a bit year by year — the kids didn’t like apple bobbing (too wet), so that dropped out. And this year the bean bag toss dropped out because I didn’t get around to making the bean bags. But “Hide the Turkey” is an annual favorite, with the kids taking turns hiding the turkey from our Pilgrim Village in different rooms of the house and then looking for it. This is another great game for kitchen time; the kids will happily spend a good part of the afternoon on their turkey hunt. And this year we added something new: a potato foot race. The goal is to be the first across the finish line, but the kicker (so to speak) is that you have to keep a potato balanced on your foot as you race. If the potato drops, you stop. It’s a contest requiring balance, patience, and concentration, as well as speed. And a big foot helps, too.
Which posed a particular challenge to our three year old, because, being just a wee sprout himself, his foot provides a lot less surface area for cradling a spud than his older and larger-footed siblings.
Yet the heat of competitive fervor would not allow him to simply sit out the produce perambulations, so he devised a solution, an unorthodox innovation that created a unique racing style all his own: he taped the potato to his foot!
I had to snap a photo of it.
I sent the picture to my Mom and she said, “That boy’s going to do fine in life. He’s a problem solver.”
I laughed, but also thought: yeah, that’s right.
One of my favorite quotes is from Grandma Moses: “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”
Into every garden some rain must fall. We’ll all have our share of troubles in life. Some game day you may find your feet smaller than your dreams of spud sports glory, and you can’t make them grow in an instant to accommodate your ambitions. Better than wailing, bemoaning our fate, or shaking our fist at the universe, is to look for a way forward. And when it comes to seeking solutions, a stout roll of tape is usually a good place to start.
But tape or no, the important thing is to do what we can rather than fret over what we can’t. And to enjoy all the opportunities for laughter along the way!
Copyright 2017 Jake Frost