November Has 30 Days. Sigh.

It’s two-thirds gone and I can hardly wait for it to be over.  November is not my idea of month.  It’s more like a jail term for the infraction of loving blue skies and colour.

I have a friend who LOVES November.  In part because his birthday is in November, but also in part because where he lives (Australia), the weather is warmer and sunnier and the cricket season is underway.  I think it’s why we broke up; well, complete opposite ideas about November and the fact that he was a cricketer.  (If you can’t explain how a game is played in three sentences or fewer, including how scoring happens, however much I love you, we have a relationship challenge.)

Anyway, to return the to dull greyness that is November here… I stand at the kitchen window and look out at the sad piles of leaves, sunk down by sleet and rain, and remember what they were once, hanging on the maple and oak trees in the neighbourhood.  I watch clouds, heavy with precipitation, scudding across the sky, hiding any hope of sunshine, thinking they seem very satisfied with their gloominess.  I watch the barometer fall, almost as fast as the thermometer, and wonder if it’s actually possible to sleep for 29 days.

I would wake up for (American) Thanksgiving.  Pumpkin pie, doncha know??  Plus, eat enough turkey, and you just fall right back to sleep again!

My girlhood hero, Anne Shirley (she of “Green Gables” fame) agrees with me, but Lucy Maud Montgomery puts it so much better than I:

“November is usually such a disagreeable month as if the year had suddenly found out she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it.”  

Some might think I’m railing against November because it means another year is slipping to an end, and as I grow older, there are fewer and fewer Novembers to come to me.  But if that hypothesis were true, I would feel the same about December, more so perhaps, because it is the end of the year.  December, though is bright.  Even if there are snow squalls and icy roads, bone-chilling temperatures and outrageous heating bills, there is a brightness to a month that encourages us to put out and turn on our brightest lights.  We fill our homes with the smell of pine and gingerbread.  We spend our time and money looking for ways to please our family and friends with gifts, not to mention a little something or two for ourselves.  We eat too much and drink too much, and love every mouthful.  And even if we think we can’t stand the holiday season, there is always, always, one moment, one sight, which makes us think… ‘so this is how the Grinch’s heart grew so big’.  From the movie:

“I’m all toasty inside. And I’m leaking.”  

I think we’re all looking forward to becoming toasty inside… As soon as we get over November.

 

And just so you know…  this is a month and a vista I could live with always… Thanks for sharing it over (Canadian) Thanksgiving, Michael & Rita.

Sun Oct 8.jpg

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Oh, God. Yes, Christmas.

I am thinking about Christmas.

Yes, I know Hallowe’en was just a few hours ago – I still have bags of Swedish berries and gummy bears to prove it.  Give us until Saturday and they’ll be allll gone.  Unless, of course, we stock up on half-price Hallowe’en chocolates and candy.  Which we have been known to do.  Sigh.

Anyway, I have now seen three different major retailers’ first Christmas shopping ads on television.  The first (Best Buy) I actually saw on the 29th!  Different kind of sigh.  I know that businesses often live and die by the holiday season, I get that.  But seriously, unless you sell things that can be given away as Hallowe’en loot too, I don’t think you’re doing your corporate image any good by starting the commercial Christmas season so early.

Beyond the advertising, a facebook friend posted a notice last week that there were only 9 more Mondays to Christmas.  Like Mondays didn’t have enough issues….

However, all this was a good kick in the butt to remind me that annual Christmas letter has to be done.  You’re all going, no! no!  not a Christmas letter! but yes, we do have one. This is because we are incredibly lazy sods who don’t do a better job of staying in touch with friends and family during the year.  To our credit, I think, we don’t do a lot of bragging about our achievements through the course of the year, which could be in part because we don’t actually achieve that much any more, what with getting older and all the stuff that goes along with that.  I mean, no one really wants to know we both managed to sleep through the night without visiting the head at least 10% of the time, do they??

It also reminded me that I need to do a “Dear Santa” list.  I’ve been doing these every year since Year One.  I don’t remember actually mailing any letters to Santa, but I knew then, and I know now, that the spirit of the letters would reach Father Christmas just fine.  I also don’t remember having extravagant lists as a child, but I have veered into fantasy on my adult lists for quite awhile.

For example, for about 20 years, I would ask for Al Pacino for Christmas.  Just for Christmas, or maybe Boxing Day, but not any longer than that.  I didn’t want to keep him, I just wanted to play with him for a while.

(And no, not that way.  Jeez, my friends have prurient minds.  I wanted to talk about acting and life in New York and “Dog Day Afternoon” which movie I will never get out of my mind.)

I often ask for Paris now, and one year I wanted Marc Anthony while just recently I was hoping to find Dame Judi Dench’s phone number in my Christmas stocking, so I could call her and we could chat about the diversity of acting in the UK, about riding elephants, and does she think ribald English humour translates well to America (I think we Canadians get it, but I’m not sure about Americans; I’d like to hear what she’s heard).

However, on the more practical side, my gift list is about books.  There cannot be enough books in my life, and this year there seems to be an even larger pool from which to choose.  I just saw Charlie Rose’s interview of Nancy Koehn and her book, “Forged in Crisis”.  She’s a professor at Harvard and not only did her interview with Charlie inspire me to seek out her book, but I want to audit her classes!  She was so fast in her responses, so well-spoken, thoughtful, erudite, and not a ‘you know’ or ‘like, um’ in the entire 20 minutes!

My twitter friend, Hope Dellon, who works at St Martin’s Press is away from her desk for a little while, but I hope she’ll be back in time to search her brain for other book ideas… not all necessarily from St Martin’s!  She and I share a taste for crime novels, especially written by women, which makes sense as she’s Louise Penny’s editor.  And there’s another bunch of books I want – to fill out the gaps in my Penny/Three Pines/Armand Gamache collection.  Hope and I also enjoy Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels; I only have three in hand and could stand to round out the collection.  Anyway, keen to. hear what she thinks should be on my list.

I also want to find a copy of “Winnie The Pooh” that DOESN’T have the Disney illustrations!  I’d like every book both David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin have written, even the ones I’ve read.

I’d also like “The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro” which is edited by my (older) cousin, David Staines, as opposed to my other cousin, David Staines, or even my brother, David Staines.  She is a favourite author, but I don’t want this particular book just because  David edited it; if someone asks me about it, spotting it in my hands or on my bookshelf, I will have a chance to tell my ‘how I met Alice Munro’ story all over again.  Good story, that.

Anyway, it’s a balmy 63/17 degrees right now, so I’m hard pressed to get into Christmas thinking… maybe if I make some gingerbread men… or put on some carols!  Giant sigh….

How many Mondays now until Christmas???