Four years ago, REI asked us all to reconsider how we spend the day after Thanksgiving. Rather than elbowing one another to get a once in a lifetime deal on something we’ll use once in our lifetime, they encouraged us to OptOutside.
While many of us don’t need any excuse to get outdoors, the initiative created a sense of participating in something greater than just a day hike or a bike ride. It gave us a reason to spend time with our loved ones and extend the feelings of joy and gratitude beyond the dinner table.
The outdoors have traditionally been part of my Thanksgiving routine. Some years back, my mom and I started taking a morning hike to work up an appetite. In Buddy’s hometown (and mine) of Richmond, VA, we’re lucky that the city and the outdoor community have built a wonderful trail network for hiking and biking along the James River.
Mom and I usually meet at a trailhead as the sun is coming up. Once we finish our coffees and figure out what layers we need, we take off. Most years the air is crisp, but some are Indian summers that allow for shorts.
Those couple hours in the woods allow me to put down everything that I’m thinking about and simply enjoy being. As we walk, we catch up on where we are in our lives, how the rest of our family is doing, and whatever else is on our minds.
I think that this unscheduled, wandering conversation is the best part of any holiday, and while it may not always happen outside, we get to reaffirm our sense of self as part of something greater, whether that’s a family, a community, or a planet.
This year, as we prepare to #OptOutside, Buddy adds our voice to the movement and encourages everyone to have a fun and safe time.
We’ll see you out there!