Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

This afternoon I'm leaving work early to do a few Thanksgiving errands -- including stopping at the public library.

That's right: I'll be going directly from one library to another.

Call it a busman's holiday.

I call it Thanksgiving Eve.

Although "Thanksgiving Eve" doesn't have the same glamor as, for example, Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve, I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving.

I think it has to do with my childhood. There was a spell of two or three years during which my parents made us go to bed really early on school nights. And by "really early," I mean reeaally in, the sun hadn't quite gone down in, our friends were still coming to the door asking if we could come out and play after we were in bed!

This was not a good situation for a night owl like me.

No wonder I loved Thanksgiving Eve. It was the first Wednesday night since school started that I was allowed to stay up past twilight. We could play outside after dark. We could watch prime-time TV! And when we finally got to bed, I was allowed to stay up reading library books for as long as I wanted. The next day we'd usually go to a relative's house for Thanksgiving dinner, but we must have stayed home a few times, because I can still remember the aroma of holiday food being prepared or kept warm in the oven as it wafted up the stairs those Wednesday nights while I lay in bed reading until I finally dozed off with the light on.

That was when I began my tradition of visiting the library on the day before Thanksgiving, checking out a bunch of books to read that evening and all through the long weekend. I'd get some old favorites ("comfort books") as well some brand new books with fresh mylar covers. Sometimes I'd get so many books that I couldn't read them all. (Some people find their eyes are bigger than their stomachs during Thanksgiving dinner. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach at the library.)

Decades have passed and I still continue that tradition today. That's why I'm leaving work early this afternoon to hit the library. I'll be up late reading tonight. Of course that's no longer a once-a-year event for me. "School nights" are now "work nights," yet I almost never go to bed before two...or three...sometimes even four A.M. Our parents' efforts to instill an "early-to-bed, early-to-rise" mindset on us may have worked on my brother, but somehow it never clicked with this night owl. What I did learn was that staying up reading makes every night feel like Thanksgiving Eve.

And waking up the next morning in a bed full of books makes every day feel like Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!


P. J. Grath said...

I love this post. Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda said...

What memories this brought back, of going to the library before school vacation to stock up on books! I'm curious--if it's not too personal a question, what were your "comfort reads"?

Laurie said...

You just reminded that one year--I think I was in fourth grade--I proudly announced to my teacher that I had read 26 books over Thanksgiving weekend. (I believe most of them were Three Investigators mysteries.)

I picked up the newest Sarah Waters novel at the library last weekend, and decided to save it for Thanksgiving weekend. So I'm all prepared. I just finished Sara Zarr's latest after school today. And I'll slide in a comfort read, possibly one with a Thanksgiving scene, like Family Sabbatical.

Enjoy your weekend, Peter.

Bybee said...

What a wonderful tradition. I have to work today, since they don't do Thanksgiving here, but my last class is in the library building. A visit to the stacks would make me feel festive.
Happy Thanksgiving!