November might just be this tired mom’s favorite month of the year. I used to think it was October, what with the arrival of autumn and all the fun family events surrounding Halloween. And my October was truly delightful — I finally made good on a two-year promise to my kids that we’d host a Halloween party, and we all had an awesome time enjoying friends, food and fellowship.
Halloween night, we met up with friends who combined trick-or-treating with a hayride, and I’m convinced that riding around, snuggled in a blanket on a warm bale of hay, is the only way to go.
It was such fun to see my little two-year-old Jonah running around dressed as a perfectly-sized Yoda from “Star Wars,” thrilled to discover the joy that is trick-or-treating. At the first house, he wasn’t sure about the whole thing, but then he realized he’d been given rare, precious candy. When the people at the second house gave him a pack of M&Ms, he clutched it in his little fist and said, “Eat snack! Eat snack!” all the way back to the car. And then he was hooked.
But even though it was a blast and worth every minute of work that went into it, I’m kind of glad that the Halloween madness is over.
November feels like pure peace after all the hurrying and scurrying to accomplish everything on our October calendar. The weather is still perfect, the leaves are at their beautiful peak of fall color, and the Christmas craziness has not yet begun — no matter how hard the retailers try to prematurely shove it down our throats. I refuse to accept it, as stubbornly as a toddler clamps her mouth shut against a spoon heaped with boiled spinach.
This month is a gift I look forward to every year, a blessed lull in an overscheduled calendar, a time for Thanksgiving and family, a time of peace. I want to relax and enjoy the downtime, not turn November into an extended December, no matter how wonderful the holidays might be. As the book of Ecclesiastes says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” For me anyway, the purpose of November is to rest and focus on gratitude.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring a little November into every day? My friend Tiffany Hendra is one of the most inspirational people I know. She posted something on Facebook the other day that resonated with my soul and reflects this concept of finding a bit of gratitude and peace in every day.
She suggested that each night, just as we take a good, hot shower to wash away the dirt, sweat and grime from the day, we should also take an internal bath before going to bed, to cleanse away the cares of life.
Unclench your jaw, let out a long exhale, loosen your shoulders and clear your mind. Let go of any drama or irritations that plagued you that day, forgive those who offended you, and give thanks for the gift of life and the comfortable bed you sleep on.
November is the perfect time to do this on a larger scale. Instead of fretting over what December might bring, instead of starting the Christmas planning and shopping, just release all the stress and enjoy the gifts hidden in today. That steaming mug of coffee, the brilliant red cardinal hopping among the orange and golden leaves, the cool breeze refreshing your lungs, the soft flannel enveloping your shoulders, the calmness in knowing there is nowhere else you have to be but enjoying life in this very moment — all those simple things are the gifts of November.
Take the time to enjoy them, won’t you?
Kari may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.