I have had a love affair with this autumn, one to which I am reluctant to bid farewell. I spent a good half hour last night scouring the internets for happy, shiny Christmas photos to post to Witch Year, trying to get in the spirit of the fast approaching season. It's not that I'm a curmudgeon (though I'm married to a man who may be the lovechild of Scrooge and The Grinch, which can make things difficult). It's just that I'm not ready to turn the page on autumn. October closes on my favorite sabbat, one which has become something of a super holiday, lasting many days, in which I incorporate a plethora of traditions from the Halloweens of my childhood, the Samhain of celtic-leaning pagans, and equatorial Dia de los Muertos: communing and dining with the ghosts of my ancestors, eating too much novelty sweets (like gummy body parts and werewolf fur cotton candy), wrestling with my shadow aspect, honoring beloved movie monsters, listening to songs about purple people eaters and weird science, relishing the knowledge that what we all, even the muggles, are reacting to and extolling the thinning of the veil, by dressing our children in costumes and stringing orange and purple lights.
And following all this hullabaloo and emotional upheaval, comes November, a month of pause and contemplation, a time for long walks and warm scarves, pumpkin-flavored everything, winter greens, and collecting and giving thanks. I've mentioned here already in this month of blog entries that gratitude has revealed itself as a chief tenant of the my spiritual practice. I resolved at the New Year to pray more, which evolved to an active search for a spiritual practice in my daily life, which began my Year and a Day of Study in June--and within these five months, gratitude has been the one experimental facet which has stuck with some ferocity, giving new and deeper meaning to the word and holiday, Thanksgiving.
In my house growing up, Thanksgiving was never given much clout, the holiday traditions being much easier to uphold among large, extended families (in which each member brings a dish potluck-style) than nuclear families in which one woman (my grandmother) is responsible for an extended-family-sized meal. When I catalog my memories of Thanksgivings past, much of them are permeated with a sour tinge of stress. My happy memories of Thanksgiving are of watching the Macy's parade with my grandpa and waiting for Santa Claus to appear--the Thanksgivings of my past have been nothing more than somewhat uncomfortable stepping stones (with many, many dishes to wash) for Yuletide.
All this backstory is meant only to illustrate how completely this holiday has transformed for me, in this one year alone. Thanksgiving is now among my favorite holidays, nestled (as it is linearly) between Halloween and Yule in my favor. An entire month of giving thanks (and squeezing myself into a corset for the Renaissance Faire!), culminating in a feast and the gathering of kith and kin. For we Wolfpeople the past few years, those gatherings and feasts have been a multitude each year, and each year I am more taken with the sharing of food and more struck by how breaking bread with a man (or woman, or child) brings such closeness, and ties people together in a way so profound.
So, yeah, though I'm bombarded with the images of Christmas--the angel street lights and banners have been hung on Salem Street, tree lots have replaced pumpkin patches, an army of inflatable Santas have gathered in the suburbs, and Frank Sinatra is crooning to me about white Christmases and sleigh rides as I wrap ornaments in red tissue at work--I am still grooving on autumn.
But, it is, in part, the too-quick passing of a season which makes it all the sweeter, yes? I'm beyond thankful for this past season, in all its mettle and its particular brand of beauty--which has as much to do with the vibrancy of red and gold leaves against grey skies as the sweep of emotion and reflection which accompany the falling of those leaves. I have so much to be thankful for this year, every year, and this past month in particular has revealed blessings and surprises for which I will be expressing gratitude for the rest of my days.
Autumn, I'll miss you; until we meet again...