At the beginning of this month, I pitched an idea to my radio class: people were taking to social media to do challenges in November. Why?
That idea sparked interest in making a podcast about November, the neglected, rejected and (probably) dejected month.
November has a reputation as an ugly month, and it lacks the redemptive qualities of the months that follow. December has Christmas; January is the New Year; February is the worst month but we pretend Valentine’s Day makes it better. November has Remembrance Day, but that’s a somber occasion.
I’m not really trying to redeem November. It’s a rough time for many, especially those who face seasonal depression (check out the podcast for more on that one). But November often gets the short end of the stick, mostly because of our obsession with assigning meaning to things.
Take December. It gets a positive rep for being the month of everyone’s favourite religious-turned-consumerist holiday, Christmas. Christmas goes together with—if not optimism—hope and thankfulness. No longer is it a holiday just for Christians, thankful for the birth of Christ; everyone is thankful for time spent with friends and family, and warmth when pushed up against a cold world. Christmas is no longer just a day. It’s a month, or a season, and its messages ring throughout the rest of the month.
And then we look to the New Year, which is bursting with meaning, assigned or otherwise.
November has no obvious meaning. Some would claim it’s about remembering veterans, but only until November 12. After that it latches onto Christmas, trying to steal some of December’s meaning for itself.
Even that is a fruitless effort, because no one likes Christmas music in November. It’s too early, we grow sick of it, and the songs about winter wonderlands don’t match up with the dreary landscape outside.
So we try and give meaning to November on our own.
This whole conversation started from the aforementioned challenges. Only wearing seven items of clothing, going vegan, cutting out sugar…perhaps subconsciously, we want November to feel significant. It’s a month that, in every other way, tends to pass us by. And who wants to feel like they waste a month of their life every year?
But does a month need a specific meaning to be part of a meaningful year? Not to get all philosophical on you (although that’s exactly what I’m doing) but I don’t think it does. A person can go through December utterly depressed; hearts can be broken in February; your past can chase you into January. Just because a month is given a set meaning by society, doesn’t mean it always lives up to that meaning.
So as November’s coming to close, I’m going to try and let the rest of the month be. Meaning can be taken day by day; a month doesn’t have to be special on its own for it to take up space in our lives. If we stop trying to make November into something it’s not, maybe it’ll redeem itself on its own.