Posts Tagged ‘November’

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On Halloween night, on my way home from work, I stopped at the pharmacy on the corner for a last taste of candy corn. I couldn’t find any small bags (and my husband doesn’t like it), so instead I bought two slightly squashed (but still delicious) Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins. And then I looked up, above the gaudy orange bags of Snickers and M&Ms, and I saw boxes of candy canes.

The next day, I walked by the Starbucks shop in my building and saw those ubiquitous red cups. Already.

November is tough for me: the days turn suddenly short and dark, when the clocks flip back an hour and the clouds start to gather. I struggled with this seasonal shift in Oxford, but I find it more difficult here in Boston. Having survived two Northeastern winters (one unusually rough, one unusually mild), I am not sure what to expect this year. But I’m bracing for it anyway, and rather dreading the chill, grey, snowy days to come.

It would be easy to skip ahead to the relief of holiday cheer, to start playing the Christmas music I love, to ease the darkness of these days by living several steps ahead. Just a couple of weeks until Thanksgiving; just six and a half weeks until Christmas. Part of me would relish the chance to gloss over the days in between.

But this year, as last year, I am choosing to be present in November, to savor the trees still aflame with orange leaves and the crunch of their dried counterparts underfoot. I will keep taking walks at lunchtime, even when it’s wet or chilly. And I will practice gratitude.

Of course, I’ll be planning for Thanksgiving, which we’ll celebrate for the third time with friends in the basement of our beloved church. I’ll make pumpkin bread and sip chai, and yes, I’ve started my Christmas shopping. I’ll celebrate Candletime, which seems like a holiday (albeit a made-up one) custom-made for me. And I will take my Vitamin D pills and keep using my new light box, because I am already feeling the effects of the shorter days.

As the holiday rush revs up, I know I’ll be affected by it: the ads and songs and those red cups (which I do love) will become impossible to ignore. But I will keep trying to live in the present, no matter how mundane or hectic it seems. I will do my best to savor November.

Will you join me?

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The red cups are back at Starbucks, the Salvation Army bell-ringers are jingling their cheer on the streets, and my inbox and mailbox are full of holiday gift guides. And November hasn’t hit the double digits yet.

I love the red cups (see above). I love the whole Christmas season – from decorations at home and around town to buying and making gifts, to the books, movies and music I revisit every year. I love the glittery-warm-fuzzy anticipation and the quiet reverence of Advent. And when November fades to grey, and the days are even shorter than they are now, you can bet I’ll be welcoming the holiday season with a cozy scarf around my neck and a cup of mint hot cocoa.

But meanwhile, this year, I’m determined to savor November – this month caught between the full glory of fall and the austere, stark, chilly beauty of winter. The leaves that haven’t fallen yet have finally reached their full brilliance, and my morning walks across the Common are a blaze of red, gold and orange:

In my kitchen, the flavors of apple crisp and pumpkin bread and butternut squash soup are still in their first flush. I’m making cranberry-orange bread too, and pulling out my cache of soup recipes (and adding a few new ones). The weekends are still warm enough to beckon me out for local adventures, and I’m storing up sunshine on every lunch break I can.

We tend, as a culture, to rush past the now in favor of anticipating the future, and we miss the moment – so many times. I’m definitely guilty of this, and while I’m looking forward to Christmas (and girding myself for the winter ahead), it isn’t here yet. And meanwhile there’s a whole month left to savor everything I love about fall.

Besides, in a couple weeks, J and I will celebrate our second Thanksgiving with dear Boston friends. I’ll make Mom’s sweet potato casserole topped with pecans and brown sugar, and bring it to our little church, where we’ll gather around folding tables in the basement and talk and eat and laugh and give thanks. I don’t want to gloss over Thanksgiving – either the day or the practice – this month. I want to enjoy all of November to its fullest before it’s gone.

Who’s with me? (And if you’re with me, how are you taking back November?)

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