Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I already know what I’m eating and reading. I know this because I eat the same things every Thanksgiving–so do you, most likely. My Thanksgiving menu includes:
- Dinner rolls
- Mashed potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- Some kind of vegetable casserole my mother always makes involving Campbell’s cream soup (or Stop & Shop brand if it was on sale)
- Another vegetable casserole involving cheese crackers or those crunchy onions in a can (I think the rule for all Thanksgiving food is that it must include a starchy/canned/sweet component, so even normally healthy vegetables are given their due ration of yummy decadence)
- Sweet potatoes (marshmallows vs. no marshmallows? It’s the age-old question)
- Pumpkin pie (one year my mother-in-law tried to get creative–she showed up with a blueberry pie and I nearly fell on the floor. I would sooner eat pizza than a non-pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. In fact, I have eaten pizza on Thanksgiving, but that’s another story)
Yes, Thanksgiving is definitely about comfort eating–but comfort reading? If you love to read, and if you’ve always loved to read, like me, you may have your own list of “comfort books.” They’re the books you read when you need a pick-me-up, like when you’re sick in bed or you’ve just had your heart broken. They’re the books you read at a certain season or holiday, because they embody the spirit of that particular season or holiday, imparting that spirit to you, as well. They’re the books you read when the news is bad, the world is cruel, and you’re not sure what to do, but curling up with a book and escaping it for a little while sounds like a pretty good idea, at least for the moment.
They’re the books you read to nourish your soul. In their pages, we find comfort and strength to carry on, to wait for a better day, or to make the day better, ourselves.
So this Thanksgiving, as I clean the house and peel the potatoes and roll out the (pumpkin) pie crust, I also make my way through A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle. I know the lines so well that I can hear my childhood voice repeating them in my head as I read. If you’ve read L’Engle as a child but you didn’t make it past A Wrinkle in Time, I highly recommend this book. It’s a sci-fi story set (appropriately) on a Thanksgiving Day when the world seems like it’s about to fall apart at the seams. With nuclear war looming, a boy and a unicorn attempt to save the human race through time travel. Yes, it’s total fantasy. But at its heart, it’s about peace. It’s about love. It’s about hope.
And at this moment, I think hope is just what I need to round out my Thanksgiving table, and nourish my soul. Happy Thanksgiving.