Dusk descends early on this cold, gray cloudy November day. All day I needed the lamplight next to my chair to read, and now I spread the wool throw over me.

Halloween/Samhain/All Soul’s Day ushered in the dark time, a reminder of death and ancestors, of mystery and shadow. In November, as bony trees appear, cold deepens and days become shorter and cloudier I sink into that bleakness, become more subdued, sleep more, dream more vividly, move more slowly. I make things in my home warmer and softer. I gather blankets and also thoughts, pondering the past, considering the future. And sometimes I just sit and stare at the brown landscape, or let my thoughts wander as I doodle.

At least, I do these things when I can. My body and soul, embedded in the natural world, want me to do these things at this time.

Yet end of year tasks natter at me (making charitable donations, health insurance choices, purchases needed before winter), as well as activities connected to the holidays (baking, cooking, sales and gift shopping, decorating, attending concerts, shows and parties). My rebellious heart cries NOT NOW! These things jar and distort the contemplative energy I feel in November and December.

I love Thanksgiving because it can be a quiet feast with close friends and family, acknowledging our interdependence, expressing gratitude for being alive and for all those who support us in cold, dark times. Also harmonious with this season is a winter solstice gathering honoring insights gained from our time in the dark and celebrating the eventual return of the light.

But the last thing I want to do during this time is whip up a big Christmas celebration, involving days and weeks of shopping, parties, and pressure to be merry and bright.

Wouldn’t it be way more fun to have our big celebration of the year in February or March, when we really need a festival? When the light is clearly returning and our rising energy makes decorating, shopping, baking and partying fun? (And our “end of the year” tasks could be done with more ease in Feb or March too.)

Well, I can dream, can’t I?

For now, I guess I will just have to do my best to pare down my activities, do what needs to be done, but in a way that creates the fewest ripples in the energy river of these months.

Coincidentally, as I was writing this blog, my husband Tom played on his guitar The Swallow Song, a song popularized by Joan Baez that I’ve always loved and associated with November. Listening to it helps me sink into the bittersweet melancholy and introspective energy of this time. Though that doesn’t sound inviting to my mind, my body enjoys cathartic relief, so I share it with you (the lyrics are here).

How is November feeling to you? Do you like all the activity at the end of the year?