Friday, November 11, 2016

November Weekends

November and I have a touchy relationship. I could do with a bit more light and a lot more color than this month has to offer – or a quick switch to cold and snow, without the in-between damp chill and bare trees. It is my least favorite month. But there is one thing about November I like: the weekends.

Getting things done, November style.
My September and October weekends were chockfull of soccer games and Saturday meetings and short road trips to visit out-of-town relatives. Every weekend seemed to have some lengthy commitment – whether fun or purely obligatory. And a few weeks from now, my family will dive into our weekend ski routine. If you’ve read this column before, you know I love skiing. But winter is a long-haul season of full days in the cold, coaching on weekends, and getting kids up and out early seven days a week.

While I am looking forward to the start of ski season, I am also appreciating this relative weekend downtime for the short while it lasts. On November weekends, there is wiggle room. Time to go for a meandering morning run or meet up with friends or linger at the table with a second (or third) cup of coffee and some reading. The kids can do as they please – stay in bed with a good book, scout out potential new bike trails in the woods, run around the yard with the puppy.

These November weekends give us time to catch up and regroup. Last weekend, as I was hauling the winter clothing out to determine which kids (all of them) have outgrown which gear (most of it), I also – finally – put the leftover summer stuff into winter storage. We haven’t been swimming in ages, but in that slow shift from summer days to fall, there seemed a lingering chance we’d see one more hot afternoon and head for a dip in the river. By the time the seasons had fully transitioned, I was too deep in the thick of back-to-school, homework, and soccer chaos to notice the bag of beach towels and swim goggles still hanging in the mudroom.

Winter, of course, has infinitely more gear than summer. Instead of flip-flops and bathing suits, there are heavy fleece layers, hats and mittens, wet snow boots, and bulky coats – not to mention skis and ski boots and helmets and goggles. Each November I have to figure out again how to make it all fit into the designated space. Each year, as the kids grow, it seems that space takes over more of the house.

It takes all of November’s weekends to make the transition from the last season to the next. We spend time cleaning out the gardens, picking up the yard, finishing up any warmer-weather projects that have loitered through the summer and fall. But the chores are fit into space with comparatively fewer time constraints than we had a few weeks ago and will have again by the end of the month.

Come the day after Thanksgiving, we’re on the slopes. Then comes the rush and full-bore excitement of Christmas, followed closely by our family’s two straight months of birthdays to celebrate. Winter weekends are fun, but very full. And they’ll be here soon enough. For now, I am stuck in November, a month that will probably never be my favorite. I could easily skip its Mondays-thru-Fridays. But I’ll take what I can in the freedom of November weekends. 

Original content by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul, posted to her Blog: Writings From a Full Life. This essay also appears as Meghan's Close to Home column in the November 11, 2016 edition of the Littleton Record.

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