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It is not easy to love Minnesota in the month of November. Outside it’s empty trees, biting wind, gray days with flurries of snow. Late sunrises and early sunsets. We have months of snow and ice in front of us, and it will probably be April before I again feel the sun on my bare arms. And, as I write this, I’ve just finished cleaning up puke from our first round of winter illness.
But there are some elements of November I love, too, and I’m leaning into those. Here are the themes I’m going to explore this month.
- Creativity. With Halloween over and Thanksgiving coming up, it’s time to update our art gallery. Later this week I’m going to make the case as to why I think you should start your own gallery.
- Hygge. Ever since I learned the Danes have an official term for all things cozy, I’ve been enamored with the concept. This month, bring on the candles, cozy quilts, and hot drinks.
- Gratitude. I love the tradition of naming things we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving day, but a single day seems insufficient when we are so fortunate in so many ways. This year, I’m looking for ways to make the whole month about gratitude.
- Light. In November, it’s dark when I get up in the morning and dark again by the time we’re sitting down for dinner. With the days getting ever shorter as the month progresses, I’m on the lookout for ways to bring more light into our lives and our home, both literally and metaphorically.
- Nature. It’s tempting to just hibernate inside at this time of year, but in our family, all of our dispositions are so much better when we get outdoors. This month I’m searching for ways we can appreciate nature when we’re in this tough in-between period of Minnesota weather: too cold for playgrounds and biking, not yet cold or snowy enough for sledding and snowmen.
Maybe November isn’t so hard to love if you look at it the right way. You know how I lamented the empty trees in the opening paragraph of this post? Well, I was just looking through one of our seasonal picture books, In November, written by Cynthia Rylant, and here’s her take on those bare branches: “In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still.” Here’s to following the trees’ lead and embracing November stillness.