20 meaningful things to read, shop and share over the Thanksgiving holiday

From must-read books and articles to a fashion-forward germ-resistant jumpsuit, everything you need to fill your time (and carts!) between now and Turkey Day.

I’ll be in NYC for Thanksgiving, a fact I reconciled earlier this summer when it became clear that we wouldn’t have a government-led national plan to make traveling and communal gathering feel safe. 

There are so many traditions I’m gonna miss this year: Fighting my cousin Chasity over dibs on our Aunt Marie’s legendary chocolate sheet cake; watching the annual Dallas Cowboys game with my Dad; vintage-shopping with Mom before diving into leftovers; caving into my nephew’s pleas to stay up “just 30 more minutes” and falling victim to one of my sister’s maddening practical jokes. But staying put is what’s best for our family and I know you’ll be doing what feels right for you and yours too.

But if you’re like me, you’ll have some extra time on your hands. And if you’re unsure of how to fill it, I’ve rounded up not one, not two, but — count ‘em — 20 meaningful things to read, shop and share over the next week. I’ve included books on forgiveness, identity and modern comfort food, stylish lifestyle products (including a fashion-forward germ-resistant jumpsuit) and, of course, links to articles that will make you the smartest person in every room you occupy. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Anna North at Vox on why restaurants are open and schools are closed:

There are a lot of reasons, from agreements with teachers’ unions to pressure from restaurant and other lobbying groups to parents’ understandable fears of exposing their children — and potentially themselves — to a deadly virus. But one big reason for the seeming disconnect has gone somewhat overlooked: the lack of help from the federal government. Money from the federal CARES Act kept many businesses afloat through shutdowns earlier this year, and expanded unemployment benefits and $1,200 stimulus checks kept many laid-off workers out of poverty. But with no more help on the horizon for businesses or ordinary people, shutdowns at the state and local level could have a steep cost, many say, leaving some local leaders hesitant to try them.

2. Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten: What was once imagined as a nourishing salve for stressed-out food-lovers after a contentious election has become a culinary bible for finding solace in the eye of a crisis.

3. Rebecca Traister at Intelligencer in conversation with Stacey Abrams on finishing the job in Georgia:

I recognize that the party is not just this national monolith. I am part of the Georgia Democratic Party, and part of my obligation is to make sure that the Georgia iteration of the Democratic Party is reflective of the needs of our communities. What we did in Georgia is not something people thought could happen. People are more willing to invest in a winner than they are in a theory. Now that we’ve shown it can work, we’re going to have to show it can work again. There is no guarantee about [Georgia’s two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate on] January 5th, but I think we can make it happen. And if it doesn’t happen, that doesn’t mean it failed; it just means it didn’t work this time, so let’s keep building it. Because it is a better theory than anything else we have out there.

4. J.Crew washable merino wool mock-neck sweater: When I worked as a fashion editor, burgundy was one of my favorite colors. I’ll throw this on under a denim jacket or blazer when I need to look the part from the waist-up on Zoom.

5. Jaya Saxena at Eater in conversation with Sohla El-Waylly on how to make a store-bought Thanksgiving feel more gourmet:

The good news for the less culinary-skilled among us is that store-bought mixes and ingredients can do a lot of heavy lifting for your Thanksgiving dinner. The bad news is that a dinner of instant mashed potatoes and canned creamed corn made exactly the way it says on the label may leave something to be desired. So how would an expert elevate these dishes to make them feel a little fancier? Chef Sohla El-Waylly, formerly of the Bon Appétit test kitchen, says she grew up on stuff like boxed stuffing and instant mashed potatoes, but she “never followed the instructions on the box.” Instead, she added other common household ingredients to make the instant stuff extra special.

6. After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love by Alexandra Elle: I was introduced to Alex’s work after I read Neon Soul, a collection of poetry about triumph over adversity. Her latest is equal parts memoir and guide and features 15 lessons on how to overcome obstacles, build confidence and practice abundance.

7. Amanda Mull at The Atlantic on how ring lights went mainstream:

Online influencers have been working in the fishbowls of their own homes for years, trying to impress those peering in for a few minutes or hours at a time. The recent mad dash of those in the work-from-home class to crib influencers’ methods happened for a reason that YouTubers and TikTokers understood long before many of the people now haphazardly emulating them did: No one wants to look bad online.

8. Walden Cushion Set in Forest: This deep-green cushion and mat combo would be a luxurious alternative to meditating in my bed.

9. Gwen Moran at Fast Company on why looking on the bright side is overrated:

Optimism is a valued trait in the American workplace. Optimism accounts for 30% of an employee’s inspiration at work, according to a survey by Leadership IQ. Optimists may deal with workplace stress better. And they may even be healthier. But having a relentlessly sunny attitude can also be a problem, says licensed clinical psychologist Robyn L. Gobyn, assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and author of The Doing My Work Therapy Journal. When your optimism clouds your view to the point where you can’t see—or, worse, deny—real problems, you could be causing more problems than you’re solving.

10. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho: In this literary extension of his viral YouTube series, Acho models the graceful empathy that often disarms those who benefit from white supremacy so we can chart a path towards a more equitable America.

11. Talib Visram at Fast Company on what young people want from the first 100 days of the Biden administration:

In order to help structure and deliver outcomes, the youth advocacy organizations have formulated a “100-Day Plan”of policies that the coalition wants to see from the incoming administration. Spearheaded by Young Invincibles, a research and advocacy group for the needs of 18- to 34-year-olds, the agenda contains seven policy areas that call for “long-overdue change,” including higher education, immigration, housing, and climate. “What’s in our agenda reflects the actual needs of young people, and a lot of those reflect the reality that young people understand the urgency to act—and to act boldly,” says Katie Kirchner, national director for the progressive think tank Roosevelt Institute’s Roosevelt Network, which worked on the agenda.

12. Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit: Just in case your nail salon gets shut back down soon (or never reopened!).

13. E.M. at *The Economist* on the trend of musicians collaborating with their fans:

Social media has played a crucial role in facilitating this dialogue and allowing such creativity to flourish. Some musicians are making use of the “duet” function on TikTok, a video-sharing site, which allows users to riff on others’ work. (If a user posts a video, another person can respond to it, and the result appears side-by-side on the screen.) It is a feature [recording artist] Charlie Puth, an American singer-songwriter and producer, has been experimenting with over the past several months. He began laying down beats on TikTok in February and requesting that users add musical layers of their own. What resulted were fully-fledged songs, which Mr Puth did not release but left on TikTok for people to enjoy. The hashtag #writethelyrics has been viewed 3.8bn times to date.

14. Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again by Lysa TerKeurst: Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a stubborn Taurus who has been known to hold a grudge or 12. But as they say: When you know better, you do better.

15. Benjamin Y. Fong at The New York Times on why teaching racial justice isn’t racial justice:

Undoubtedly students are changed in the course of critical inquiry and engagement with diverse and challenging texts. I can attest to this fact having taught liberal arts discussion seminars for the entirety of my academic career. The problem comes in thinking that these individual transformations are themselves small-scale social transformations. This belief leads to a number of worrisome consequences, the most immediate being simply an inflated sense of the university’s importance. Yes, diverse perspectives ought to be incorporated into our courses, but the future of American society does not hang on our collective syllabuses being carefully weighted for race and gender.

16. BioRomper Unisex Full-Body Garment: OMG, so functional and chic: A unisex jumpsuit outfitted with cutting-edge technology to reduce cross-surface contamination so you can move and groove minus the fear of catching #DatRona.

17. Rose Minutaglio at Elle in conversation with Alpha Kappa Alpha members on Kamala Harris’s win, including Arianna Davis — a fourth-generation AKA and digital director of Oprah magazine:

I’m a fourth generation AKA. My great grandmother was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and also a regional director, one of the national—and esteemed—positions you can hold in the sorority. As a kid, I went to events in the community with my grandmother and aunt, who showed me at a young age what it meant to be part of a lifelong sisterhood, and one that served its communities. I grew up eager to one day become an AKA, and when I crossed in Spring 2007 at Penn State’s Delta Gamma chapter, my only regret was that my grandmother and aunt weren’t alive to see me follow in their footsteps. And now, seeing our soror become elected to the White House as our new vice president, I wish they could be here to witness history. Because of them and so many other incredible Black women in this sorority, I’ve always known anything was possible, but now seeing Kamala Harris primed to take over the White House, I truly feel anything__ __is possible, whether you’re an AKA, a Black woman, or anyone who has ever been told there is a ceiling stopping you from reaching the top. There’s not, and Kamala Harris—my soror—is proof of that.

18. Light for the World to See: A Thousand Words on Race and Hope by Kwame Alexander: In under 100 pages and at exactly 1,000, this anthology of poems cuts to the struggles of Black lives and America’s historic disregard for them to inspire “endless resilience and unstoppable hope.”

19. Gerrick D. Kennedy at GQ on the unstoppable rise of Verzuz:

The Instagram show quickly became one of the pandemic’s biggest success stories, as [producers] Swizz [Beatz] and [Timbaland] leveraged their connections to put together increasingly preposterous dream battles across R&B, hip-hop, gospel, and dancehall. Legends like Jill Scott vs. Erykah Badu. Nelly vs. Ludacris. Snoop Dogg vs. DMX. Gladys Knight vs. Patti LaBelle, in a firecracker showcase that Twitter users affectionately dubbed #AuntieChella. In a world where nightlife isn’t viable, folks are planning Verzuz watch parties online, filling out brackets to rank their favorite songs, and openly fantasizing on Twitter about the period-appropriate cosplay they would wear if they were to leave their living rooms (NBA jerseys and fitted caps for Fabolous vs. Jadakiss, Steve Madden platforms for Brandy vs. Monica).

20. & Other Stories mock-neck sweater in Green: Such a gorgeous color and cozy texture, perfect for my ladies when y’all need to look the part from the waist-up on Zoom too.

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