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November 30, 2020
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This Pandemic Holiday

There’s hope that this pandemic holiday will soon be a once in a lifetime experience behind us. But at the moment, we are smack in the middle of it, and like you, balancing the need to connect with our loved ones with the necessity of staying safe and close to home.

For this week’s show, Rethinking the Holidays, we talked with people about how to be creative with our rituals and traditions, and how to ask what we really want to keep and what we should set free. We also talked about how we aren’t the first generation to live through holidays in a time of trauma, like during the Christmas Truce of World War I, and that the simple act of baking bread can deepen our spirituality.

Kate Archer Kent, the host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Morning Show, and I recently talked about some of these ideas on her show. We had some callers, who shared their plans, too.

“We did something kind of unique for Halloween, with my mom and my grandma. The family has requested we do for Thanksgiving as well. We had our entire family spread across the country, on a Zoom call and we played online trivia and told jokes and did a costume contest. But our tradition, if we were together, is for everybody to take a moment to say what they're thankful for. And that always means a really a lot to my mom. This year, we're adding for each person to tell my mom their favorite memory of her. My father passed away a year ago and we know that memories are very, very precious to me right now. We use Kahoot and there's all sorts of different Kahoot games that you can find online for free or you can create your own. We expected the Halloween one to have only lasted 45 minutes or an hour, and it was two hours of fun and laughter. And my mom kept calling me days after saying that was so wonderful. It was so wonderful.”

–Marty in Verona

“We're starting a new tradition this year. It's been a tough year for local businesses, restaurants with mandates getting tighter, etc. And so we're starting a new tradition of ordering takeout from our favorite barbecue place on Main Street here in River Falls [Wisconsin] and ordering it on Wednesday and using that as leftovers reheated for Thanksgiving dinner. We've lost loved ones, and obviously our gathering is going to be much smaller, but we're choosing to make lemonade out of lemons.”

–Dale in River Falls

From all of us at TTBOOK, we wish you happy, peaceful, holidays, however you’re celebrating. If you’d like us to know anything about an episode you heard this past year, or something you think we should explore in the coming months, let us know at We really love hearing from you.


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Helen Macdonald On 'The Dark Is Rising'

"The Dark Is Rising" by Susan Cooper
Every year, at holiday time, Macdonald reads this tale of a boy who finds out he's one of the "old ones," part of a series from author Susan Cooper. She says it reconnects her with a sense of wonder inspired by what might lurk beneath the surface of the seen world.
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Why Philip Pullman Is Obsessed With Panpsychism

Dafne Keene as Lyra Silvertongue on HBO's "His Dark Materials"
The return of HBO's adaptation of Philip Pullman's classic series "His Dark Materials" is the perfect time to dive into his new trilogy, "The Book of Dust." The tales of an older Lyra Belacqua probe more deeply into the central question of his earlier books: What is the nature of consciousness?
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Stanley Weintraub on the World War I Christmas Truce

The Illustrated London News's illustration of the Christmas Truce
In 1914, over the week leading up to Christmas day, the opposing troops sang carols to each other, played ball and exchanged gifts, in spite of their generals’ wishes. Historian Stanley Weintraub says that the Christmas Truce was a one-time-only event.
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A Pandemic Holiday Season Offers Opportunities For Community, Too

A Zoom holiday is just one option for re-thinking how you celebrate this year.
Priya Parker challenges us to question why we have certain traditions, and to be open to creating new ones that fit this unusual holiday time.
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