In this quiet period before the annual avalanche of traditional and usually forbidden food and drink served up amid abundant fellowship, we pause to give thanks. In the spirit of the season we asked some of our writers and editors to each share with us a handful of the things for which they are most thankful.
THE MOVIE CRITIC
■ “Before Sunset” (2004)
Poised midway between the youthful ardor of “Before Sunrise” (1995) and the marital burnout of “Before Midnight” (2013), Richard Linklater’s romantic gabfest on the banks of the Seine (pictured) lets Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celeste (Julie Delpy) stumble into a second chance that actually works. Hope for us all, I say.
■ “Groundhog Day” (1993)
Just the most philosophically profound work of karmic slapstick since the days of Keaton (Buster) and Beckett (Sam). Bill Murray relives one day until he finally gets it right, and there’s a lesson there to ponder over your gravy and stuffing. This is when the star started looking like the Laughing Buddha of modern pop culture.
■ “I Know Where I’m Going!” (1945)
A headstrong British lass (Wendy Hiller) is all set to marry a rich man for his money until she gets stranded across the water from his private Scottish island with the local laird (Roger Livesey). A holiday treat: One of my late mother’s favorite movies. Mine too.
■ “Ohayo”/”Good Morning” (1959)
The great Yasujiro Ozu’s funniest movie, and maybe his wisest, too. Two Tokyo brothers go on strike until their parents buy a TV, but the movie’s really a warm, sharp portrait of a community — Japanese Norman Rockwell with extra-strength humanism. No surprise: Little kids love this film.
■ “Truly Madly Deeply’’ (1990)
On one hand, it’s “Ghost” for Brit-o-philes. On the other, it’s one of the most affecting fantasies of love, loss, resilience, and acceptance ever made. If all you know of Alan Rickman is Snape in “Harry Potter,” watch this movie and come away a fan for life.
THE POP MUSIC WRITER
■ “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John (The version from “Live in Australia.”)
And for a list of break-up songs, sorry seems like a good place to start. Sir Elton (pictured) and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin know from sad songs saying so much.
■ “The Difficult Kind” by Sheryl Crow from “The Globe Sessions”
This heartrending ballad hit all the stops — anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — in six minutes, wisely observing “There ain’t nothin’ like regret, to remind you you’re alive.”
■ “Pretending to Care” by Jennifer Warnes from “The Hunter”
This delicate cover of a Todd Rundgren tune is heartache distilled to its most painfully bittersweet, a chilly sentiment sung with exquisite warmth.
■ “Anotherloverholenyohead” by Prince from “Parade”
This is what it sounds like when lost loves cry. It is cheeky, angry, and, of course, funky, a winning combination with killer backing vocals.
■ “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC from the album of the same name
Because when you’re done suffering, revenge fantasies can be cathartic, and it’s impossible to feel down while giggling and saying “High voltage!” in your best Bon Scott voice.
THE TV CRITIC
■ “The Twilight Zone”
This is all. Everything. I will be forever thankful for Rod Serling’s classic anthology series, which pioneered thought-provoking, literary TV. It ushered issues of technology and philosophy into prime time, and went on to influence shows such as “Lost.” The production values are primitive, but the ideas and scripts still resonate. The just-released box set “The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series” is an embarrassment of riches.
■ “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”
I thank this show every day, for reminding me of how awful, pointless, self-indulgent, commercial, vapid, and fake TV can be. It helps me to appreciate the good stuff.
■ “Breaking Bad” (Pictured)
I’m thankful, of course, for all the great cable dramas of the past decade, including “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under.” But “Breaking Bad,” I think I’ll miss you most of all. Each episode was like a short film, with the kind of artful camerawork, precise scripting, and committed acting that lifted series TV to a new level.
■ “Masterpiece Classic”
At its best, with the likes of “Bleak House” and “The Way We Live Now,” this show gives the classic-adaptation genre a good name. The productions are unhurried, intelligent, handsome, and poignant. Plus: Love them British accents.
■ “The Dick Van Dyke Show”
There are many sitcoms, including “All in the Family,” “Seinfeld,” and “30 Rock,” that I continue to worship. But this one, which set the bar for both domestic and workplace TV comedy, will always have my heart. I wanted Rob Petrie to be my dad; I wanted Buddy and Sally to be my best friends; and I wanted to meet Pickles — just because, well, to congratulate her for her name.
THE STYLE WRITER
■ Catherine Deneuve (pictured)
No matter the role, no matter her age, she remains my favorite fashion icon. Her beauty and breezy style in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964) bring me to tears (no exaggeration). It’s unfathomable to think of anyone else wearing Yves Saint Laurent so darkly in “Belle de Jour” (1967) and later in the definitive vampire film “The Hunger” (1983).
■ Prabal Gurung
During New York Fashion week, I inevitably hit a physical and intellectual wall. Ten shows a day and unrelenting deadlines can do that to a man. This past September, when I found my chin skimming the sidewalk, I walked into Prabal Gurung’s show. The amped-up take on midcentury fashion left me feeling as electric as his blue pencil skirts.
■ “The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter” by Linda Grant
This 2010 series of essays handily rebuts arguments that fashion is a frivolity that lies solely in the domain of vain muttonheads. I’m thankful that her beautifully written book always reminds me of the significance of clothing in our lives.
In the world of classic Hollywood film design, Edith Head dominates. But the Australian costumer Orry-Kelly designed for hundreds of classics from 1932 to 1963, including “Oklahoma!,” “Auntie Mame” (1958), “Some Like It Hot” (1959), and my personal favorite, “The Gold Diggers of 1933” (1933).
■ “Downton Abbey”
It can, at times, be just as deliciously catty and venomous as “Dynasty” or “Dallas” were in their prime. But I’m most thankful for the sartorial feast that “Downton Abbey” serves every week. The clothes are painstakingly researched, making it a lesson in fashion history sans dull textbook.
THE BOOK EDITOR
■ “House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton
Like Gerty Farish I am in love with Lawrence Selden. Unfortunately for both of us Selden is in love with Lily Bart. Even stronger than my love for these characters and this book is the gratitude I have that I am woman living in the 21st century, not the late 19th.
■ “Housekeeping” by Marilynne Robinson
I still can’t believe my good luck: I reread “Housekeeping,” Robinson’s first novel, at least five times, convinced that she would never write another. Twenty-four years later Robinson published “Gilead,” then 4 years later, in 2008, “Home” and proved that her command over landscapes internal and external is intact.
■ “Stuart Little” by E.B. White
Being a mouse among men is trying and sometimes humiliating, but Stuart holds on to his dignity and pluck. Who can blame him when, late in the book, he turns petulant over his wrecked canoe? Then there’s the heartbreak over losing his love bird, Margalo; it’s almost too much to bear. In our house we are writing a sequel, “Stuart Little 2: The Hunt for Margalo,” to keep hope alive.
■ “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” by William Steig
Relief to the heartbreak in this book comes when Sylvester changes from a large rock back into his fur-covered, hooved self. It turns out that a donkey with a picnic on his back looks exactly how joy feels.
■ “Everywhere Babies” by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Board books tend to get bitten and chewed; this one is totally delicious. The babies are plump and delightful, the rhyming text sensible in the best way. But it is the images of families — gorgeous in their multiplicity, but perfectly ordinary in their presentation — that is revelatory.
THE SPORTS WRITER
■ Koji Uehara
He was the oldest guy in the Red Sox bullpen, the closer by attrition. The man didn’t say much, but there was nobody on the mound to talk to. K-K-K-Koji just threw strikes, one after another after another, all the way to a most unexpected piece of autumnal jewelry for his bushy-faced mates. And he proved that you didn’t need a beard to be feared.
■ 1980 US Olympic gold-medal hockey team
They were a bunch of no-name post-adolescents from Winthrop, Mass., and Warroad, Minn., and points between who had no business beating the planet’s best hockey team. “The common man goes nowhere,” their coach told them. “You have to be uncommon.” So they were for a magical fortnight in Lake Placid in 1980 when Mike Eruzione and his amateur playmates won the most uncommon Olympic gold medal of them all.
■ Michelle Kwan
She was a ponytailed 12-year-old when she jumped into a women’s global sport and made it her own for a decade. She was a graceful and gracious sportswoman who left figure skating’s global stage to become an ambassador to the world with a master’s in law and diplomacy. Diplomacy is the better for it.
■ Harry Parker
The master and commander of Harvard’s rowing dreadnought came to Newell Boathouse directly from Olympus and spent more than half a century there messing about in boats. The man who needed no last name perennially turned out a peerless crimson-clad armada while defying both convention and the calendar. When he left the river for the last time this summer, Harry took one final Yale shirt with him.
■ Bill Rodgers
He was the Pied Piper of the hardtop, inducing countless thousands of sofa sitters to lace up and go the distance with him. Boston Billy was at the head of a parade of plodders that has continued for four decades, and he’s still stepping lightly at 65, still King of the Road.
■ An old Stanley hammer (pictured)
With its steel shaft and rubber handle, it was given to me as a present years ago from my son. Still serving wonderfully.
■ A Japanese saw
Inherited from my son, that saw, with its long wood handle and a fan-shaped blade, beats out other saws. The blade stays sharp and is thin and flexible, allowing cutting flush with the floor or any other surface. And it cuts with a very narrow kerf and keeps the cuts straight and true.
■ A 4-foot level
This is all wood, which keeps it straight and unwarped, and was inherited from my father-in-law. Like the hammer, it’s a Stanley, made in New Britain, Conn., where I worked for 12 years.
■ Squares, set and adjustable
One allows me to measure 90-degree and 45-degree angles and the other lets me mark odd angles. I am thankful for their ability to mark straight lines to allow this handyman (my father-in-law, smiling slightly, called me a wood butcher) to make a perfect cut at almost any angle in beautiful clear pine.
■ Bandages (this one from the Handyman’s wife)
They are simple, but the best things are.