It all seemed simple enough. A dip in the ocean at dawn. On Thanksgiving.
It was Plymouth, Mass and not a Puritan or Wampanoag in sight.
It was 28 degrees.
It was snowing. And blowing.
And the waves were crashing.
It was 6:30 a.m.
My youngest daughter, Lily, was game. My other children were not. Nor was my wife. Nor were any of the other 24 family members in the house. None was up for that matter.
So we went. Down the 129 steps to the beach, careful not to slip on the ice-crunch steps or touch the railing caked with half-inch crusted snow.
Peeling down to our suits wasn't the tough part. No. Walking to the edge of the water, amongst the rocks pointed and bumpy, and then, well, getting into the water. That was the tough part. Our feet were painful. Each step a challenge. Then, midst our howls and expletives, we finally dove into the milky, sandy green waves and felt the rush tingle exhilaration as we rose to the surface, turned and ran out, our feet feeling nothing this time, making our way to the rock and our towels and shirts and sweaters and coats and hats and, oh, how excruciating it was getting our feet into their scratchy boots, but by then everything felt warm and we had a sense for what it would be like to die in this weather.
Which is what my daughter had asked when I poked into her room just minutes before: "Are we going to die from this?"
"No, Lily. We won't die." And with that assurance she had bounded out of bed and was ready for every part of this adventure far sooner than even I had imagined, and I marveled at her spirit, even as she yelled and ran past me and dove into the water ahead of me.
We climbed the 129 steps and went indoors and stoked the fire in the wood stove and drank our thick coffee and stared through the stove's glass window at the orange flames and felt the warmth inside and out, wide awake and so thankful that we had not died and had, instead, grabbed that moment on Thanksgiving 2014.