By Anne T. Donahue
In the midst of one of our dozen-or-so heat warnings this summer, I finally gave into escapism. Huddled by the AC vent one balmy summer morning, I logged onto TikTok, took a deep breath, and typed that fateful word into my search bar: autumn.
For the next couple months, I’d scroll through autumnal images, montages, and Gilmore Girls clips (despite not even watching that show), and assure myself that soon the nights would get longer, the days would get colder, and I would finally be able to wear pants without heat exhaustion. I bought an apple candle at some point in August, and on every unseasonably cool day (all two of them), I cackled with the knowledge that soon it would be my time.
But I’m not talking about warm, sunny days in September, or even those weird heatwaves come October. When in need of escaping the summer, I thought of only one month: November. A month I’ve loved, hated, and finally made peace with. Thus, I refuse to let it speed by.
November asks for nothing. It is a sleepy, gloomy, unmotivated month that offers a blessed reprieve from having to think about any holiday. It’s jacket weather’s last gasp, and now snow-free enough to justify still wearing sneakers. It’s uncomplicated, mundane, and nap-centric. I expect nothing from November, and it expects nothing from me. Which is why I will not let it escape with the advent of early Christmas songs or, well, advent calendars.
It’s not that I hate Christmas (Christmas is whatever! Halloween is the superior day because universally, the vibes are better!), but I hate Christmas being forced upon me. I did not sign up for holiday music this early. I am not ready to watch hours of Christmas decorating TV shows stretched to fill two months of airtime. I hate forced fun, in general. November is the month in which no fun is to be had at all, but not in the same, depressing way of January. Potential Oscar-nominated movies happen in November. There’s a big day where everybody shops. Nothing happens outside of everything getting relatively darker and greyer and it becoming more acceptable for me to tuck myself into bed by 10 p.m. the way it was always intended. Cancelling plans is fine because who cares? As Kelly Bundy once famously said, “I want to do nothing, I want to be nothing.” Well, baby: November is it.
So I refuse to rush through it. I refuse to lose myself to the spirit of Christmas (which I give a full 25 days to once December happens, four weeks from now), or to feel like I need to start doing anything to prepare for anything festive. I will not get a head start on Christmas shopping, because my friends and I are all on tight budgets and don’t do gifts anyway. And I will refrain from Christmas Vacation until after American Thanksgiving, despite Todd and Margot being the closest thing to my personal patron saints. I will obviously order multiple Festive Specials starting the day they’re available, but I will not eat the Lindt chocolates because they’re too Christmas-y and also, I genuinely hate them.
I urge you all to do the same. (Unless you like Lindt, then that’s your issue.) Everything is happening all the time, and life is moving freakishly fast, and rushing through a quiet month in an attempt to capture holiday magic only ever ends in Christmas fatigue and eventually January. It’s still autumn, the best season of all, and the reason some of us (hello) held out hope for a better meteorological future this past summer. There’s so much winter ahead, so many festive events, so many Baking Championships involving fondant and elves shaped out of it. But November? It’s fleeting and precious, much like 2-4 p.m. is on a Sunday afternoon when you know you can catch a few winks without feeling guilty or sleeping through dinner. November is the naptime of months, and as much as I love holiday enchantment, I will ruin it for everybody unless I get my precious sleep.
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