You’ve caught me a bit off guard. Again.
You always seem to whisper your way into my life. Wedged between jack-o-lanterns and costumes, followed closely by snow and lights. You are met with muttered strains of “It’s November? Already?” and “How did that happen?”
You come, I suppose, expecting to be greeted warmly. But November …
I have been unsure of you.
You remind me of pumpkins left too long on the front porch. Mums that cannot bear your chill. Leaves, once crayon-colored, now brown and brittle.
You see, November, you’re just not October. And man, how I love October. Boots and spiced lattes and campfires and blanket scarves. Days that call for screen doors. Nights that beg for warm socks. All of outside blazing orange.
October is intoxicating.
But you, November? You are different. The hoodies that October grants? You deny them, demanding coats instead. My children sullenly yield their shorts for pants under your watchful gaze. And though you live within the confines of fall, you and I both know your job is to lead us to the threshold of winter.
And you know how I feel about winter …
Still I wrestle with you, November. Because although you bring cold, you also offer me 30 days to hold December — with all of its glorious holiday frenzy — at arm’s length. And for that at least, I am grateful. Perhaps that’s why, at your end, we all gather with family for just a bit to truly appreciate you for you.
And then we shop.
Barely noticing you’ve slipped quietly away. Again.
Oh November. I readily admit I’ve held little love for you. But my heart is changing. And so, I offer you a truce.
Can we do it differently this year?
You see, I’m getting older. (Every time you appear, you make sure of that.) And as I age, I find myself holding this one feeling in tension. Like I don’t quite want to curl my fingers around it, but I know I can’t just let it go. It’s not overwhelming, but it is persistent. Gently nudging me. Calling for my attention.
The feeling of lost time.
It’s different from regret. Less harsh, more compassionate. It doesn’t yell. But it is firm. It is gracious in giving second chances, but always with a knowing look to remind me that chances are not certainties.
And it challenges me. This feeling, it so challenges me. Over and over again:
What will you do with your time?
What will you give your heart and mind to?
How will you fill your days?
What will last and what will fade?
And of them, what will you choose?
This feeling and those thoughts? I resisted them at first, November. They seemed ominous and gloomy and a little much for a 41-year-old. But, as I said, my heart is changing. And as it does, I’ve come to see those words as sweet invitations. To step out of what kind-of matters to find what absolutely matters. And to give myself to what I love even if it’s hard — no, especially if it’s hard — and not necessarily lovely. I’m learning to walk with the thoughts instead of running from them. And honestly, I wish I gotten that at 21 years old.
But, back to you, November. What does all of this have to do with you?
Well, as you appear, wrapped in chilly winds and short days, I pledge to do something I’m not sure I’ve ever done before:
I will welcome you.
And what’s more, I will even embrace you, November. I will walk slowly through your days, enjoying the feel of tiny gloved hands in mine. I will give you time, and I will let my children to do the same. I will not rush you. I will not mark off your days. I will let you be, and I will be, too.
So, hello, November. And welcome.
Thank you for your dazzling sunrises that bring me early-morning beauty. Thank you for your bare tree branches that diligently hold homemade bird feeders. Thank you for your dark evenings that call my family inside and around my table. Thank you for your cold that offers the weary ground a moment to rest. Thank you for turning our hearts to gratitude.
Thank you for time.
It’s good to see you.