Thanksgiving is fast approaching! In a matter of days, dining tables near and far will be groaning under the weight of platters of food as we kick off the holiday season with a traditional day of feasting, family and friends (and football). The last Thursday of November is a day most hold sacred — many consider it their favorite holiday — because it is a time to gather without the pressure of gift-giving. It is a time for exchanging smiles rather than presents, and for telling stories rather than tearing wrapping paper. In a culture obsessed with acquisition, Thanksgiving offers a welcome pause — a day devoted to recalling that which really sustains us and to which no one can attach a price tag.
It has been said (and sung) that the best things in life are free, and I would argue that one of those “best things” is the sense of belonging and community created when we gather and interact out of a feeling of goodwill and gratitude, rather than gain. This is the essence of Thanksgiving, but it is certainly not exclusive to an annual holiday, nor should it be limited to family and friends. The founders of the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park recognized that long ago; they strove to satisfy the need for public places to gather and create community, to exchange ideas, information, or just greetings — and our town is the richer for their foresight. One and all are welcome to enjoy the building and the grounds; admission is free, and the more frequently you visit (or stroll, or browse, or borrow), the greater your feeling of connection.
I know this because last year I had the good fortune to be hired by the Westerly Library, and in the past 12 months I have witnessed and experienced countless instances of kindness and connection that are made possible by the existence of civic spaces that are utterly democratic. From my vantage point at the circulation desk I have observed patrons coming and going from all walks of life, and have served individuals from Watch Hill to the WARM Shelter. Full disclosure — it had been a while since I darkened the door of the library prior to being hired — but for the last 12 months I have had a front-row seat to the kinds of gatherings and exchanges that keep communities vibrant, and my life has been greatly enriched by this increased engagement with civic life.
This holiday I give thanks for the existence of the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park. I give thanks for this beautiful building and the collections it houses. I give thanks for the park it occupies, the wonders of which are equally depthless. But most of all I give thanks for those who people both entities, and breathe life into them. Young and old, rich and poor, staff and patrons — Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you.
Top requested books
1. “Apples Never Fall” by Liane Moriarty
2. “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles
3. “The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave
4. “The Judge’s List” by John Grisham
5. “Better Off Dead by Lee Child
6. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr
7. “State of Terror” by Hillary Rodham Clinton
8. “Peril” by Bob Woodward
9. “The Dark Hours” by Michael Connelly
10. “Wish You Were Here” by Jodi Picoult
Top requested DVDs
1. “Jungle Cruise”
2. “The Crown: The Complete Fourth Season”
3. “Free Guy”
5. “Palm Springs”
6. “Mare of Easttown”
9. “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
10. “Cry Macho”
TUESDAY — 10-10:30 a.m., Family Storytime – Join us in the 3rd floor Terrace Room for a family storytime and craft to go! The program will be geared towards ages birth through 11 years when accompanied by a caregiver; 1-4 p.m., Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available to help connect you with local services/resources. Email her at email@example.com; 2-3:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom every Tuesday to address your tech questions. Preregistration is required; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Club – The Knit and Crochet Group is meeting weekly upstairs in Reference.
WEDNESDAY — 10-10:30 a.m., Family Storytime – Join us in the 3rd floor Terrace Room for a family storytime and craft to go! The program will be geared towards ages birth through 11 years when accompanied by a caregiver; Library closes early at 5 p.m.
THURSDAY — Library closed for Thanksgiving.
SATURDAY — 9 a.m.-4 p.m., DIY 3D Ornament – Take some time off from the holiday festivities to make your own ornaments! Pre-made pieces are available for pickup in the Kids Room and Teens Space while supplies last; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Wreath Take & Make – In lieu of our Annual Wreath Making Workshop we are again offering a Wreath Take & Make kit out in Wilcox Park! Kits will be available by the Memorial fountain while supplies last; 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Crafternoon To-Go: Handmade Holiday Edition – This week, we’re making adorable Gnome Ornaments! Pick up your kit in Reference while supplies last; 10:15-11 a.m., Zumba in the Park – Try out Zumba for a fun workout! Classes are FREE and will be held on the grassy area near the gazebo, weather permitting; 4:30-5 p.m., Annual Tree Lighting – Join us in Wilcox Park for a magical kick-off to the holidays! Come enjoy some treats and sing-alongs with the Chorus of Westerly.
Kate Merryweather is a circulation associate at the Westerly Library.