Sunday, December 6, 2009

Did You Catch It Before You Blinked?

I've been advised that I've been remiss in writing.

And I have.

November was one of those weird months that simply sapped the writing right out of me. However, I'd like to pretend for a moment that it is still that eleventh month of the year, if you don't mind. Sometimes I feel it gets neglected and trampled over in our rush to get from the end of summer/beginning of school (September) and exhaulting in the beauty of autumn with colorful leaves & fat pumpkins (October) to the crisp joy of Christmas (December) and the opportunity to begin anew (January).

There's something about November. It always seems to go by so fast. With 30 days, it's not the shortest month of the year, but unlike April, June, & September, I always have such plans for a leisurely month of November and, in the end, I'm scrambling to figure out where the time went.

So I'd like to spend a few moments discussing this favorite month of mine. There's no real rhyme or reason here, just some thoughts that my brain keeps making me write down on napkins and scraps of paper, an indication that I was supposed to be actually writing and not avoiding it claiming writer's block. *grins*

In the realm of holidays often overlooked, November somehow got blessed with two of them. While Memorial Day & Labor Day get all the glory of beginning and ending summer, not to mention Independence Day with it's summertime fireworks, tucked into the fall month of November is Veteran's Day. Yes, the holiday gets its share of speeches and some areas even give it a parade, but for the most part it tends to slip on by as merely a day that government employees, and some businesses, have off. Yet, like Mother's Day and Father's Day, this holiday is a time for us to honor those who have served in our armed forces, who by the very act of signing up - either as enlisted or drafted - performed a sacred duty to protect our country and all of it's citizens. Wow. Say what you will about the various wars or police actions or whatever you'd like to call them, the men and women who served during those times of uncertainty, as well as those who served inbetween during times of peace, deserve our whole-hearted respect and appreciation. My dad served, as did two of my uncles. Between the three, our family covered three branches - Army, Navy & Marines. I'm always proud of my dad, but I have to admit, when we're out either at a show or a service and they call upon our veterans to stand, there is a slight catch in my throat and a mist to my eye for knowing that my father was one of those ready to do his duty. Veteran's Day comes in November, not a good month for picnics or gatherings for fireworks, so it has to stand on it's own merits. Quiet respect for those who have simply done what needed to be done. I was lucky. All three of my veterans came home. Not all of them did.

Now I know that TECHNICALLY Thanksgiving doesn't get overlooked. However, it doesn't really get to stand on it's own two legs (or drumsticks, as the case may be) either. The last Thursday of the next to the last month of the year, Thanksgiving seems to be more and more the herald of the Christmas season and less and less the day to gather with family and friends, to count our blessings, to give thanks for this new world the pilgrims ventured towards with their meager belongings and hearts filled with hopes and prayers for the freedom to worship as they chose.



Kinda interesting that the holiday that came about as a way of honoring those who bravely ventured to a new continent in order to gain religious freedom and takes place in the month prior to the month in which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus has been subtley overshadowed by the commercialism of shopping, of preparing the lists for black Friday's gift buying and giving, of filling calendars with lavish dinners entertained by Santas. Is it me or does it seem that the meaning of Thanksgiving has been taken away, much as prayer has been taken away from our children's schools?

I found rather appalling the news reports of people who spent the entire day of Thanksgiving camped out in front of storefronts, rather than with family and friends giving thanks for the blessings that were theirs.

I may not enjoy football, but I was with my family ... my mother, my father, my brother, his lady & my two nieces ... and that alone made my heart give thanks as my house was filled with warmth, love, and happiness. Particularly after their football team won. *grins*

Yep, November holds a couple of holidays that I find particularly meaningful. It is also a life changing month in that it holds Election Day Tuesday. Strikes me as intriguing that the month that includes the time for us to give thanks for the bounty of our great nation also brings us the day where we, as citizens, are also allowed to practice the freedom to chose the leader of our city, our state, our nation. Over the years we've had some great leaders, as well as some not so great, but the one constant in all the changing is our right to be the ones to choose.

Of course, November also is a personal favorite, just from some of the anniversaries of memories it holds. It is the month I began working for a delightful young couple as the nanny to their only daughter *mumblemumble* years ago, it is the month that I purchased my very first car all by myself (okay, with a little haggling help from a friend, but the money was all mine!), it was the night before Thanksgiving I moved into my little house 12 years ago, and then there was the Backroads Roadtrip of 2008 that led to a fast, fun filled weekend in Chicago last year.

November is more than just the next to the last month of the year. It's more than just the month before Christmas. It's a blustery autumn month filled with times of rememberance, family, and blessings. A month that we should all give thanks for our leaders, are protectors, our families. Maybe if we spent a bit more time doing that than in preparing our camping gear so that we can spend the night in front of store doors, we might all come away a bit richer.

One last thing ... there's a house in my neighborhood I've previously mentioned. It always amazes me. The older couple who live there keep their yard filled with the huge air blown creations for the various holidays. They have a bear with a heart, they have a leprechan with a pot of gold, they have a giant bunny. They have all types of creatures inhabiting their yards for the various holidays. Halloween decorations this year began, I kid you not, on August 31st and as the month of September waned into October, the yard simply became more and more filled. Then on November 1st, the goblins and ghouls disappeared and drivers by were greeted by a turkey. Unfortunately, the weekend before Thanksgiving, so arrived the Christmas blowups. November was not over, the day of Thanksgiving had yet to dawn, yet Tom the Turkey had been completely overwhelmed.

Can you see the cute turkey? Much like Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and even the month of November, if you blink, you might not catch something simple but rather special.