Rewriting Thanksgiving traditions

Big canoe Thanksgiving
Every family has different holiday traditions.  Most families gather for a big meal on Thanksgiving. Some watch or play football. My family likes to run in a local “Turkey Trot”. But how many people go for a canoe ride in a 14-person voyageur canoe on Thanksgiving?
This year, several families had that opportunity as participants in the first Thanksgiving Family Getaway program at North Cascade Institute’s Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake.
Families from all over Washington and Oregon gathered at Diablo Lake to celebrate Thanksgiving while surrounded by pristine beauty. Though the forecast called for rain, rain, and more rain, we were showered with more sunshine than precipitation. Families enjoyed activities such as canoeing, hiking, tracking, art classes, and the microscope lab.

Microscope lab(Title) Family Getaway participants canoe Diablo Lake, Photo by Karl Molesworth (Above) A participant explores objects through a microscope, Photo by Saul Weisberg
Children libraryFamilies explore the treasures of the Wild Ginger Library, Photo by Karl Molesworth

The first evening kicked off with a family game night. By the second evening, however, the children decided that they would take over running evening programs by treating us to a performance of a play they produced themselves. They were certainly gifted in the art of improvisation! On the final night, Skagit elder Larry Campbell spoke in front of the fireplace about his experience growing up Native American.

Shelby turkeyChef Shelby Slater cuts the Thanksgiving feast’s turkey, Photo by Saul Weisberg
Child sweet potatoeA child enjoys sweet potatoes for his Thanksgiving meal, Photo by Saul Weisberg
kid showChildren putting on an evening show for all families, Photo by Saul Weisberg

Some might say that the highlight of the program was eating a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner without doing any of the cooking or cleaning. For me, the highlight was spending time with a group of people I’d never met before, but who felt like family by the second day. Hopefully, the Thanksgiving Family Getaway program is one holiday tradition that will continue.

Photos courtesy of Karl Molesworth and Saul Weisberg.


  1. Gerri Weiher

    Tanya, What a neat thing to do for Thanksgiving. Especially when you’re away from home and your usual trandition! Great article and neat pictures.
    P.S. Just talked to Scott …. glad to hear you had a good time this weekend and thank you so much for the lovely greeting cards you gave us for Christmas. They are really neat and I look forward to using them.

  2. Jacalyn

    Superbly illuminating data here, takhns!

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