For all of you happy elves who flipped the switch on the Christmas season as soon as the last little Thanos or JoJo stepped off your front porch, or dumped your pumpkin spice latte down the drain in favor of a stout eggnog, I’d like to extend a kind invitation to join me in celebrating the understated glory of November. I think Lee Corso says it best: “Not so fast!” You know Lee, right? He’s the crotchety fellow who puts on the college football team mascot heads on ESPN, which pretty much runs on a loop reel at our house in November.
I’m not judging you. If you’re ready to squall over that poor dead mama’s Christmas shoes or tie one on with The Boss as he belts out the news that Santa Claus is coming to town, go for it! There’s not a thing wrong with extending the joy of the season plumb to Mardi Gras if that’s your way. Shoot, I can totally envision a big, fake tree twinkling by the fireplace year-round. People could just change out the decorations! Walmart could sell sets of themed holidays in-a-box.
As for me and my house, we celebrate NO-vember. It’s great fun! I do my best Nancy Reagan and just say no. No to toys, no to new purchases, no to stuff that costs money.
“Mom, I need a new toothbrush!”
“Have you asked Santa? Maybe you’ll get one in your stocking. It still has bristles, doesn’t it? Brush on.”
“Hey, Mom, can I have some money to…” my #4 child starts in.
“No way, not in NOOOO-vember,” taunts my #3 child with a bemused glint in her eye before I even have time to launch into my ask Santa spiel. That one’s going to be alright.
Now, no need to go popping off to the SPCA, Gentle Reader. These children want for nothing, are generally both clean and well fed most days. We just put the brakes on the stockpiling of stuff each November. That extends to Black Friday, known in our family as STAY HOME Friday. We lounge in our PJs, eat leftovers, and play board games. We’ve even been known to have a bonfire! What we don’t do is join the throngs of shoppers vying for whatever the gift of the year happens to be.
I’m no Scrooge. Some years we start the Christmas decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving, flying directly in the face of my mother’s flatout refusal to deck the halls of my childhood until the calendar read December. She also packed everything away the day after Christmas. Nary a strand of tinsel or speck of snow-in-a-can could be found by sundown on the 26th. Now, don’t get me wrong. We had grand, extravagant Christmases. Once the big day was over, though, she was totally over it.
I get that now. The British have Boxing Day. We have De-Christmasization. Even now, when it’s my turn to be the mom, I de-Christmasize the day after Santa. There is absolutely no way I’d be able to sustain the spirited jollity until New Year’s Eve, much less Epiphany. In fact, my mother proclaimed as she stripped the house of holiday joy that it was bad luck to leave a tree up in the new year. Of all the things to pass from mother to daughter, this is the one that stuck. Like my mother before me, I keep Christmas in grand style and then I box it up quick as a wink.
But before all that Christmas finery festoons the farm, we spend a period of appreciation-building called NO-vember. It’s my spin on family tradition. I can just see my kids years from now telling their own families about those long NO-vember weeks that made their Christmases all the more festive. Or, they may tell their kids how their goofy grandma wouldn’t buy them a thing during those crazy NO-vembers—that they suffered those tough injustices of bygone childhood like having to walk to school uphill both ways.
And those sweet future grandbabies won’t believe a word of it because it’ll be YES-vember for them!