Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Culture

Out There: Making Merry on the Run

Columnist Susan Lacke finds her Christmas sprit on a run.

Columnist Susan Lacke finds her Christmas sprit on a run.

“Jeez, you’re in a bad mood today.” My husband wrinkled his nose as I batted his hand away from the cookie dough. “What made you such a Grinch?”

I turned off the mixer, brushed the flour from my cheeks, and glared at Neil. It wasn’t that I was trying to be grumpy – I just was. Despite my best efforts to deck the halls and find Christmas spirit in a batch (or three) of sugar cookies, I haven’t been feeling very merry. If anything, this year I’ve been one big ol’ ball of “Bah, humbug.”

“Why don’t you go for a run?” Neil suggested gently. “That always cheers you up.”

“In this weather?” I opened the window. Snow was starting to fall – we were expected to get up to a foot of the white stuff that night.

“The sidewalks downtown should be pretty clear.”

“Ugh,” I groaned. “Downtown is full of tourists, homeless people, and assholes.”

“I’m going to give you a moment to think about what you just said.”

Oh, man. I really was in a foul mood. “Okay, fine. I’ll go for a run.”

“Attagirl.” Neil smiled as he disappeared into our basement with the bowl of cookie dough.

I laced up my shoes, clicked on a hydration belt, and disappeared down the street. Instantly, the run was off to a bad start—my neighbors hadn’t yet shoveled their sidewalks from the previous snowstorm, and the ice underfoot sent me sliding onto my butt. Once downtown, I found sidewalks free of snow—but they were also very, very full of people. Holiday light-peepers were out in full force, stopping short every five feet to take yet another selfie (seriously, what is it with these assholes and selfies?). While waiting at a crosswalk, a passing bus sprayed cold, dirty slush onto my tights.

This was supposed to make me feel better? I only felt more Grinchy than before. Not even 15 minutes into my run, I decided to give up and head home to drown my sorrows in eggnog and bah-humbugs.

On my way back, a homeless young mom and her daughter were holding a sign in front of the library:

“ANYTHING HELPS.”

I didn’t have any cash on me, but I did have a Picky Bar in my hydration belt. I fished it out and gave it to the girl, whose eyes widened immediately. She flashed a bright smile with a missing front tooth:

“Is this a candy bar?”

I chuckled. “Kind of. It’s got chocolate chips in it.”

“Mom! Mom!” she waved her treat in the air with glee. “I got candy!”

I swear, I felt my Grinchy heart grow just a little bit. In that moment, I knew exactly what I needed to do.

I stopped at home to grab a few supplies, kissed my very bewildered husband on the cheek, and ran out into the snowy night once more. I didn’t have much with me, but what I did have, I gave—the homeless in the park got socks, hand warmers, and the rest of my Picky Bar stash. When I ran past a Salvation Army bell ringer with chattering teeth, I asked if he preferred coffee or cocoa, then ran to Starbucks to fill and deliver his order. At a light display, I ran past an older couple awkwardly fumbling with a phone to take a selfie—then stopped and offered to take a few shots for them.

And when I finally made it back home, I opened my garage door, paused for a moment, and headed back into the street—this time, to shovel and salt my neighbors’ sidewalks.

Neil was right—that run did cheer me up. Not because of the act of running itself, but because somewhere on the streets of downtown (amongst the tourists, homeless people, and assholes), I found my Christmas spirit again.

***

About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke.