Halloween, homecoming, and the start of the school year behind us, November arrives with promises of Thanksgiving and the soothing smell of pumpkin. There’s a comfort to November, born of knowing ourselves in relation to the unfolding school year. The anxiety of August has been erased by experiences shared with those around us. Classes and campus culture are familiar now, September strangers turned to friends.
This isn’t to say that surprises aren’t just around the corner; November is particularly delicious because, like the car that has climbed the first clicking hill of a roller coaster, most of the ride is still ahead of us, thrills, dips, curves, and all. It’s just that in November we know who we’re riding with.
November is a natural time to pause and give thanks. Keats’ words in mind, this is “the human season,” when days shorten and we might do well to share our appreciation of those who fill our world.
On campus, this could be as simple as a handwritten note, a thoughtful email, or an unexpected cup of coffee. This fall I’ve heard students thank teachers for participating in assemblies and lunchtime activities, seen teachers thank students for leading discussions in class, and (on one unseasonably hot day last month) a parent said thanks to me when she anonymously dropped off a box of popsicles when I was out visiting classrooms.
It’s too cool for popsicles now, though if the parent who made the present of them dropped by my office I would offer the thank you of a “close bosom-friend.”
Now, in November, I feel a gratitude garnered from the rich experiences of our first weeks of school and look forward to the months ahead …together with friends.