How a Green Hour Saved Thanksgiving

from Wildlife Promise

Clearly my dad was terrible at football (NWF's Miles Grant)

My Thanksgiving hit rock bottom about 10 years ago as I woke up from a food coma-induced nap in my cousin’s guest bed at about 7pm. Lost time with relatives, a missed half of Turkey Day football … was all the overeating really worth it?

Thanksgiving hadn’t always been this way. As a kid, my Thanksgiving didn’t center around sitting in front of the screen watching football – it centered around playing it. My dad was always happier out in the yard letting me “tackle” him than he was making small talk. When I went to relatives’ houses for the holiday, I’d beg my older cousins endlessly to come out and throw a ball around.

But as you get older, getting muddy on Thanksgiving is frowned upon. And once you’re a teenager, you’re expected to dazzle your older relatives with impressive feats of eating, which I was only happy to oblige.

Once I was in my 20s, my metabolism started slowing down but the eating didn’t, now followed by sitting around having a drink. Finally, it all caught up to me – and there I was, lying not in the grass but in a dark room.

So the next year, I had a two-part game plan for making sure I survived my Thanksgiving upright: Eat only until full, and get in a green hour. Once dessert was done, I asked my relatives if anyone wanted to go for a walk.

Not only did a couple of my older relatives say they’d join me, but a bunch of younger cousins said they’d come as well. I was surprised at first, but then remembered myself at their age – the last place I wanted to be was cooped up in the house.

We got back feeling energized, and the impacts go beyond mental health. While enormous Thanksgiving feasts can have major physical consequences, a 2006 study suggested you can erase some of the risk by getting out for a walk after the meal.

I’ll be spending this Thanksgiving with my friend and fellow blogger Every Day Father. With sunny, mild weather in the forecast, I have a feeling I’ll end up passed out once again this Thanksgiving – not in the depths of a food coma but from trying to keep up with a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old through nature walks and hours in the yard. My dad took plenty of dives in the backyard, and this year I’m thankful to be able to give some back.

Learn more about how to help the children in your family Be Out There, on Thanksgiving and all year round.