Thanksgiving break is always met with relief from Thomas More students. After ten weeks of fast-paced, hard-hitting readings, papers, and classes, the opportunity for a brief respite is welcome indeed. When the holiday begins on Friday evening, the campus becomes a ghost town as students—perhaps with friends in tow—leave for home. Of course, something of the semester follows them to their turkey dinners: a paper to finish here, some hundred pages of Plato there. But on the whole, the merriment of the holiday gives enough of a pause to finish off the last few weeks of the semester with aplomb. One of the marks of a seasoned Thomas More student, however, is that Thanksgiving break is seen as an opportunity to voraciously read books which they would otherwise not have the time to pick up. And where good literary culture is present, there good conversation will follow. Here’s a recap on Thanksgiving break, written by a current senior:
“Guarding the New York City library are two massive stone lions. Perhaps they are intended to frighten off the foes of reading. Perhaps they are there simply for ornament. However the case, I felt an affinity for these drowsy felines as I sat by a lively fire this past week with a glass of scotch in my hand, in conversation with two friends: another current senior and an alumnus. “How about a movie?” one suggested. “No—let’s talk about ghosts.” So we talked about ghosts and authors of ghost stories: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Russell Kirk, Washington Irving, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and others. Like a drifting ship’s wheel, the talk turned from ghosts to Odysseus and from Odysseus to everything under the sun.
It is easy to classify this as a façade of literary dilettantism, or to use a curter phrase: being nerds. But how many would spend their Thanksgiving break listening to Sir Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches? Or singing Latin hymns before bed? There’s more than a charm to these sorts of things, and especially in serious conversation spiced with levity. There’s a sense of fulfillment, of doing the human thing nobly. Whatever it is, it certainly beats the bizarre bustle of Black Friday scrabbling.
Throughout the week, far from the madding crowds, we had the opportunity to be nourished spiritually. Ten minutes walk from where we were staying was a Benedictine abbey, with daily Mass, Adoration, and the liturgy of the hours. After the busy-ness of a full schedule at Thomas More, the quiet afforded by the abbey church was ideal for recollection from the fast pace of undergraduate life. It also offered a chance to pause before the start of a new liturgical year, Advent being just around the corner. Oh- and we had plenty of time for feasting, too. The traditional Thanksgiving spread proved a satisfactory last hurrah before the quiet weeks leading up to Christmas. On Sunday, as the dark and dreary days of December began, we set our sights again on Thomas More, ready to finish the remainder of the semester with renewed spirits.”