November is one of my favorite months. We will set our clocks back this Sunday night, getting the gift of an extra hour. A repeat of sixty minutes, arbitrarily decreed, for the express purpose of making early mornings lighter even as the days grow shorter. Since I am an early morning runner, I very much appreciate the light in the morning. It’s always hard to get up early and lace up for four, five, or more miles several times a week. Harder still to face when it’s cold AND dark. I’ll take these little mercies wherever I can get them.
The other November gift is that we are truly into fall. Pumpkins everywhere, now unrelated to Halloween and scary carvings, but omnipresent because of their beauty and flavor. Pies, bread, savory curries and even lattes are better with pumpkins. We get to bundle into sweaters and jackets, boots and wool socks, scarves and beanies. It’s all new again, this fall wardrobe and we’re nestling into the hygge of it all. Coziness, cuddling, contemplation, slowing down.
Fall is a transition season, moving us from the busyness of summer activities, and its long lit days that are filled with work and travel, parties and gathering, sports and games. We’ve stayed up late and wrung every moment out of the longer summer days. We are now reminded that winter is coming. I like to revel in the crisp fall air and begin to think about what indoor creative projects I want to accomplish. It’s also when I begin to look back at my January commitments and see how I’ve done and if they still resonate or are important for my life.. as it is right now. I start preparing to be more quiet and embrace more stillness in my life.
November also brings us the national holiday of gratitude — Thanksgiving. While I no longer display pilgrims and indians as decorative mascots for the mythology of an imagined Plymouth gathering, I share humanity’s longstanding instinct to celebrate and express gratitude for the harvest.
Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Deciding to establish a national day of gratitude in the midst of chaos and crisis is an apt example for our times. Whatever we believe in, I suspect that gratitude in-the-midst is a universal human longing.
I am hopeful that we can all find common ground in thankfulness. As we all suffer the consequences of climate chaos, societal fraying, uncivil discourse, and political upheaval, I’m choosing to stand in gratitude. For firefighters and health workers, for poll watchers and first responders, for mothers and nurses, for candidates and protesters. We belong to one another and I am grateful for each and every one of us.