I’m in love with the Thanksgiving season of my imagination, the one with families and friends gathered comfortably around a table overflowing with the bounty of the season, children with mittens tied to their wrists jumping in piles of leaves. The excitement of holiday shopping, the cheesy movies in which people fall in love over steaming cups of cocoa. It’s a prototype, a model made for lore that doesn’t accurately reflect anyone’s reality, but which I think we all riff on in one way or another, creating our own versions of a meaningful season. .
What makes the holidays special are the rituals that are unique to us, those household or individual specific things we do every year that will never be commemorated in a Norman Rockwell painting. They are personal, idiosyncratic, maybe even a bit boring.
Maybe for you it’s screaming in front of the TV watching football on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Maybe take a long walk with your whole family at 4:30 p.m. twilight or spend an afternoon volunteering. A friend told me that her most steadfast seasonal tradition is to clean up her garden, getting rid of all the dead leaves before the first snow arrives.
In 2016, Frank Bruni wrote in The Times about a family whose holiday gardening chores result in a vase full of branches on which they affix leaf-shaped pieces of paper with messages of gratitude, creating a grateful tree. Frank recognized his own family in this very specific tradition: “While the rituals vary, the attachment to them does not,” he writes.
Holiday rituals change according to circumstances. At the height of the pandemic, we scaled down our gatherings, left hand sanitizer from Santa Claus, performed “What I am grateful for this year” recitations via Zoom. Some of these changes persist, others return.
What is your weekend ritual after Thanksgiving? Does that mean trying at each meal to perfect the proportions of your remaining ideal sandwich? Are you, like me, trying to read as much as possible in your effort to average one book a week by the end of the year? Is there something you do every year that you think everyone should adopt?
Tell me about your personal holiday rituals, the more specific the better. Include your full name, city and state and I’ll share a few in an upcoming edition of The Morning.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
🍿 “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (until Tuesday): I sometimes lament the grip that the franchise/extended universe mindset has on the movies. But then writer-director Rian Johnson says, “I think I’m going to do two sequels to my delightful murder mystery film ‘Knives Out’” and, well, what do I do? Starring Daniel Craig again as Detective Benoit Blanc, this sequel, the first of two, runs for a few days in theaters, before disappearing and reappearing on Netflix just before Christmas.
📺 “Slow Horses” (Friday): In this Apple TV+ series based on Mick Herron’s spy novels, Gary Oldman stars as Jackson Lamb, the rude and regularly drunk MI5 agent who runs a bureau for incompetent and disgraced British agents. The first season of this fast-paced, dryly funny show premiered earlier this year and is only six episodes long, so the catch-up is a relatively small bump.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Turkey and barley soup
Hello, do you hear that little tap-tap-tap from your kitchen cupboard? It’s your cooking pot asking you to turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into a velvety turkey and barley soup. The recipe, by Cristiana N. de Carvalho, is simple in the best possible way – a mild blend of barley, herbs and soup vegetables. Even if you can’t stand to think of another turkey meal right now, you should still make this soup. It freezes perfectly and will be just what you want when the winter winds howl. Always listen to your soup pot.
Dead end: Team USA held firm against soccer heavyweight England, battling to a draw.
A stunner: Iran beat Wales 2-0, scoring both goals in added time after the Welsh keeper was shown a red card.
No more work: A migrant chased the promise of a job in Qatar’s capital.
Star Power: Athletic have watched the greatest players in the world on football’s biggest stage. Here’s how they did it.
Today’s matches: Hoping to bounce back from a shock loss to Saudi Arabia earlier in the week, Argentina take on Mexico. Follow all matches.
Michigan No. 3 at Ohio State No. 2, college football: The stakes are always high when these rivals meet for their annual season-ending game. This year, they are as high as possible. Both teams are undefeated for the first time since 2006, and the winner is guaranteed to secure one of four college football playoff spots. Michigan’s running game has been elite, while Ohio State has one of the best quarterback-receiver combinations in the nation. By one measure, they have the two best defenses in the country. So who has the advantage? It can come from nature. “If the weather is bad,” a Big Ten coach told The Athletic, “it plays a huge role in Michigan’s hands.” Eastern Noon today on Fox.
Related: A century ago, the Michigan coach plotted to have Ohio State’s quarterback disqualified for the season. These letters show how he did it.
NOW IT’S TIME TO PLAY