It was the first day of November, a Tuesday morning, and I was on the bus. Between songs on my iPod, I would overhear students dissing the poor month that had just begun. “I hate November”, “November sucks”, “Oh, November’s always so grey and boring”. I couldn’t bring myself to agree with them. Not on that morning anyway. I gazed out of the window, squinting from the sun, as the bus climbed steadily uphill along Pine Avenue, the downtown cityscape coming into view behind a colorful row of still-relatively-leafy trees.
“I can’t believe it’s November already!” another student exclaimed. Now that I could agree with. Time’s been flying. It was September just two seconds ago. Before we know it, it’ll be winter and time for the holidays. A time for going home, or coming home, or realizing that by now you kind of have two homes. The change in clothes is inevitable now, and so is the inauguration of the good old winter coat. How do we do this again? After a long, hot, sunny summer, who on earth could possibly get psyched up for waterproofing, ice-proofing and frostbite-proofing ourselves all over again?
November brings with it lots of hard work and deadlines — presentations, exams and course-papers — and a reminder of the list of tasks to complete before the end of the term. It often brings fatigue and, along with that pale November sky, a hint of blues. The mornings get colder, the afternoons fall into evenings sooner, and the metro-rides get more irritating (not to mention boiling hot), as people start to take three times the normal space with all of their winter gear on, and you risk getting your scarf caught in the closing doors as you forcefully cram yourself in there with all the down coats at rush hour.
But there are many positives to November and I assure you that this month deserves to be liked! It’s sad to think of it as a dreary and uneventful month, one that we just have to get over and done with before the holiday season is finally upon us. Such is the fate of the month preceding Christmas, I suppose. November always feels like killing time before December, a month spent looking forward to snow, to holiday cookies, to parties and plans, a month devoted to preparing decorations and lights, and to thinking of gift ideas. It is as though the only way to bear November is to look forward to happier, more wonderful times. Poor November, it should have a personality of its own!
It does to me. I vowed this year to enjoy November as November, not as the-month-before-Christmas. To me, it is the month of buying new socks (warm wooly ones), of losing myself in the softness of fleece, of tasting new soups, of trying new heartwarming recipes, and enjoying hot chocolate in a café while studying. It is the month of roasted chestnuts, pomegranate, rubber-boots and tea-light candles. It’s finally time not to feel like you’re missing out on anything while you’re cooped up working productively in the lab, because it’s so unexciting outside. It’s the month where you could try to slow down your speed a little, before the maddening holiday rush of shopping, festivities, social events and family. The perfect month for indoor activities — museums, concerts and bistros. The only month of the year where the sky looks the way it does, especially at dusk – greyish blue – trapping the light of the sun behind it, and promising snow.
No longer in the mood for autumn, but not yet in the mood for the holidays, I have been making an effort to embrace these November days, especially since they haven’t been as dark and dismal as they usually are, with the uncharacteristically sunny weeks we’ve had so far. But today I misbehaved.
I blame the flurries last night. We were having supper in a lovely, candlelit Italian restaurant, sitting by the restaurant’s large windows, minding our own business, when the sky was suddenly livened by snowflakes. They were barely visible at first, like star trails in the night sky, and then they grew into lighter, fluffier, fluttering flakes. Even when we’ve lived here all our lives, or at least for a great number of years, and though we should be completely immune to the snow by now, it’s amazing how excited most of us get over this first snowfall. Our eyes light up like children’s eyes do, smiles uncontrollably spread across our faces, and it’s suddenly the topic of everyone’s Facebook status. Snow! Whirling, melting, disappearing immediately, but snow nonetheless.
And today I had changed. I bought Christmas cards. I consumed my first gingerbread-latte. I picked out a present and made several mental notes for other ones. I let myself feel completely thrilled at the sight of the lights and decorations in the streets. I still can’t think of Christmas trees, ornaments, parties and wrapping paper, but darn it, it shouldn’t be long. Shame on me.
Not autumn, not winter, not too exciting, and destined to simply be treated as the month that precedes one of the greatest months of the whole year. Sorry November, I really tried.