Good morning. It’s a pleasure to greet you this Friday after Thanksgiving, at the dawn of cozy season, here in the dwindling days of the year. I usually write to Times readers via the At Home and Away newsletter, where, for months, I’ve been contemplating ways we can lead a full and cultured life during the pandemic.
I started working with a group of Times journalists in the early days of lockdown, endeavoring to assemble ideas and inspiration to help you navigate a world abruptly changed in almost every way. Twice a week, I gather recommendations from my colleagues and from readers for passing the time richly, wherever you are. Today, I’m here to offer some suggestions for how to spend your postprandial weekend.
The day after Thanksgiving is one of those in-between days that the holiday season bestows on us: a day off from work for many, but not the actual big day. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure day, whether your particular adventure consists of Black Friday shopping (perhaps this plant-based gift guide will inspire you?), curling up with one of our 100 Notable Books of 2021, venturing out to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie, “Licorice Pizza,” or doing something else.
I’m a fan of a post-Thanksgiving quasi hibernation in slippers and sweats, orbiting the kitchen, where leftovers beckon. It’s the ideal weekend for streaming something you’ve been meaning to catch. (The final season of “Insecure”? Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut, “Passing”? “Cowboy Bebop” — either the original anime series or the new live-action version?) But if you’ve had your fill of the hunker-down life, I hear you, and encourage you to be safely out and about. We indoor cats will mind the hearth until your return.
Holidays, in the Norman Rockwell version, are rosy-cheeked, hugs-all-around affairs. That’s not, of course, always the reality. If this weekend for you brings the welcome emptying of a too-full house, if it’s the first time you’ve unclenched your jaw in a week or if you’re just feeling out of sorts after yet another confusing year, you’re not alone. My friends and family have taken to using the vague yet all-encompassing phrase “it’s a lot” to describe how we’ve been feeling lately. It explains what’s happening without going into detail; it’s nonspecific but legible to, well, everyone.
However you spend this weekend, I hope that you’re safe and warm, that you’re able to relax a bit, and that you get to connect and catch up with people you love. I hope you have leftovers (more on that below from my colleague Sanam Yar), and if you’re traveling, I hope your trip is headache-free. Thanks for making room for me at your table.
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South African scientists have found a new variant that has prompted restrictions on travel from countries in the region. It’s too early to know how well the vaccines work against it.
The retail industry is fighting a vaccine mandate for its workers before the holidays.
Some objects and practices born in lockdown will probably stick around (like masks and QR codes). Others (a “no-touch door opener”) less so.
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Your guide to leftovers
If you’re lucky enough to have a mountain of Thanksgiving leftovers, a world of possibilities awaits beyond your standard turkey sandwich. (Though if you still want one, make it an Elena Ruz sandwich — a sweet-savory concoction named for the Cuban socialite who invented it.)
Perhaps you’d like a leftovers enchilada pie, which may sound a little offbeat but is easy to make and delicious. Turkey also lends itself well to tweaked versions of tikka masala, mole verde or pho, courtesy of Samin Nosrat. As for other sandwiches, Melissa Clark recommends turkey cubanos or healthy-ish pitas.