November doesn’t get a lot of love. A completely unscientific poll of Google results tells me that it gets ranked sixth, eighth, ninth, or last out of twelve, depending on who you ask. The only good thing everyone can agree on seems to be Thanksgiving, which isn’t until the very end of the month. You come off of the high of Halloween and suddenly the next 30 days are all downhill, or so the thinking goes.
It’s getting darker: Thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time, the sun suddenly sets at 5:00 when it was setting around dinnertime just a few days ago. It’s getting colder: The fall chill, which was so welcome in October, suddenly goes right through your jaunty cardigans and bites into your skin, forcing you to dig out a proper coat. Your only decorating options are leaves and gourds, which pale in comparison to last month’s webs and bats and the twinkly lights that will go up in December. If November was a color, it would be brown. November? Might as well rename it Nov-meh-mber.
As you may have guessed based on the title of this post, I’m not a November hater. Don’t get me wrong–I used to be on the other side. As a child, I was immensely jealous of my sister, whose October 29th birthday gave her the opportunity to have a Halloween birthday party, something I dreamed of. What did I, stuck in the wasteland of mid-November, have to follow that up? Thanksgiving? No one wants pilgrim-themed party. I could go ice skating (and did once or twice, leading to the only bone I’ve ever broken), but what was that compared to a birthday wonderland full of costumes and caramel apples? (In what I still see as a great cosmic injustice, my sister loves skating but is not a huge fan of Halloween.)
Over the years, though, my dislike of November has lessened somewhat. It may not be as magical as December or as whimsically autumnal as October, but that’s part of its charm. If you treat it well, November is a break. What do you have to accomplish in November? Once your Thanksgiving travel plans are made, you can look at recipes and pretend you’re being productive. You can get bonus points for thinking about holiday presents already but you don’t actually have to buy them yet. If you’re a student, your midterms might not be quite as concentrated as they are in October but you don’t have to freak out about finals just yet. You can take some time to stock up on cider and scarves before the real cold sets in, and the novelty of wearing sweaters hasn’t quite worn off yet. Braeburns start showing up at the market. Once Thanksgiving hits, you get to see family (maybe) and you get an extra-long weekend. You can eat stuffing, which is easily in the top five foods we eat here in the US yet is sadly neglected for the rest of the year.
Look, November is never going to be my favorite month, and I’m always going to think longingly of the Halloween birthday party I never got to have. That doesn’t mean November doesn’t have redeeming qualities, though. You just have to look a little deeper to find them.