It’s generally the overlooked holiday occurring between the night you dress up like a trampy nurse or blowhard presidential contender and the ever-lengthening holly jolly Christmas season. Cooking commences at 6 a.m. then it’s ravenous consumption, contentious political repartee among the fam, picking at the bird like you’re a character in a Mad Max movie, then nappy time. Add a little life to Thanksgiving by altering the staid routine with a wholesome activity shared among friends and family.
2015 Edison Park Turkey Trot
Edison Park Field House
6755 N. Northwest Highway
Chicago, IL 60631

The northwest side neighborhood offers a Thanksgiving Day 5K contest as well as a race for the youngest turkeys — the Gobble Gallop. It’s not at a terrible time, either, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Edison Park Fieldhouse, and your $20 to $25 registration helps cancer victims and their families through Imerman Angels. The registration fee gets you a bib number, tee shirt, virtual goodie bag and a nice, warm feeling about helping yourself through exercise and helping others with your participation. If you live on the route, get your head out of the oven for a while and be a part of the “best cheering section” competition.

Christkindlmarket Chicago
50 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 494-2175

Surely you can get in line at a big box store to get a television set as big as your nearby multiplex’s screen, but honestly, save the kids’ psyches, purchase it online and wander the much more serene Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza. Open Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. , the German inspired market is more akin to a Hallmark card than what you’ll see on the news later that day about shoppers bludgeoning each other for a limited edition Barbie Saddle ‘N Ride Horse. Feast your eyes instead on the lovely glass ornaments, nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, handmade toys, crafts, clothing and jewelry. Have some European pastry, hot wine or coffee, a steamy sausage or a soft pretzel while winding through the tents.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
State Street from Congress to Randolph
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 235-2217

Wake the little spectators early to get a good spot to view the annual parade that kicks off on Thanksgiving morning at 8 a.m. Taking place regardless of rain, sleet, snow, avalanche or Polar Vortex, the parade will feature more than 5,000 participants making music, tethering ginormous balloons, dancing, twirling, tossing batons and waving like the Royal Family. You can stroll over to the Christkindlmarket around 11 a.m. when the parade winds up and enjoy hot beverages before the drive or train ride back home.

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The Second City
1616 N. Wells St
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 337-3992

If you find it impossible to laugh at your uncle’s unrelenting “when I was your age” diatribes around the holiday dinner table, take off to the Second City which will offer Thanksgiving Day staging of its 104th Mainstage Revue;  the E.T.C. company’s 39th revue (Soul Brother, Where Art Thou); and the immensely appropriate Holidazed and Confused Holiday Revue at UP Comedy Club. Leave the humorous political contention to the professionals — just bring the uncle along — and revel in the moment.

Morton Arboretum 
4100 IL-53
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 968-0074

By far the best thing you can do for yourself on Thanksgiving Day is to take a walk, and what a glorious one it will be at the Morton Arboretum. The nature sanctuary offers free admission all day from 7 a.m. to sunset on Turkey Day.

Related: 3 Great Thanksgiving Recipes For Vegetarians 

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at