On the Friday before Halloween my husband and I were in the Target in Loves Park, IL, looking for a Pooh Halloween movie for our daughter, and the folks wearing red and khaki were busy taking down the Halloween décor and putting up the Christmas tidings.
They were moving us from begging for candy to begging for toys and gifts, carrying us in one great big sugar rush straight from Halloween to Christmas.
Santa is already at the mall. And at least one online retailer has already started its “Black Friday” sale. (Can it be a Black Friday sale if it occurs on any day other than the Friday after Thanksgiving?)
Last week on my daughter’s daily sheet her teacher reported that she is the only child who knows the month of November. At first I chuckled, thinking, “Well of course she knows November, it’s her birthday month.” But now I have changed my tune. It’s a miracle any child knows about November the way retailers are pushing us from back-to-school to Halloween to Christmas.
In November the focus is not ourselves but others. November is a month of giving thanks, of looking at where we are in life and being thankful for the people who lift us up, walk alongside us and love us. It’s a month where there is focus on providing food, shelter, clothing, and companionship for those less fortunate. It’s a month where we gather with friends and family and collect hugs and laugh and cry together.
Apparently there is no money to be made in that. So, the advertisers and retailers have just decided to skip it.
I need November, especially since I’ve started knitting. Nothing gives me warm fuzzies, like imagining the people I love wrapped up in warm fuzzies from me that they unwrap on Christmas morning. But they will be unwrapping half-knit fuzzies on pointy wooden sticks if I lose the month of November. November is also National Novel Writing Month, the month of the Great American Smokeout, and speaking of smoke and fire, in Britain November 5 is Guy Fawkes Night. November is even National Pomegranate Month. Really, how could retailers overlook the celebration of pomegranates? We need November.
But more importantly, we need to take some time and be outside of ourselves. We need to be thankful for all of the wonderful blessings and gifts in our lives, and most of us have much for which to be thankful. We need to stop and think about those less fortunate and then actually do something—whether that something is as simple as buying a bag of groceries for a food pantry or more complex like volunteering to deliver meals to those who can’t get out.
And we need to spend quality time with the ones who support us. Quality time doesn’t mean buying expensive gifts. Quality means taking the time to show up at the Thanksgiving dinner table and doing the hard work of communicating in person. We need November, because November lets us slow down and reconnect and re-center.
The retailers have tried to overwind my clock and sell me a lot of tinsel and foil, but I’m just going unwind. I’m spending Thanksgiving at the table with my family. I’m taking back November to count my blessings and share my joy.
And, I hope you do to.
© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.