I love November. Though its thirty days seem to get written off as transitional at best and miserable at worst, I think November has a lot going for it.

For a number of reasons, November tends to be a little quieter at work than the previous two or three months. As in past years, I’ve had to let a lot of stuff slide during September and October, but I’m now cleaning things up quickly. Having the sense (even if it’s partly delusional) that I’m "caught up" is good, and sets me up for a productive last couple months of the year, in the office and out of it, when I attend one of my field’s two main conferences. Attending that meeting is usually worthwhile, and this year’s conference looks to be better than usual.

Lower stress at work makes it easier to enjoy the many excellent things about November away from the office. Thanksgiving, for one thing. I love Thanksgiving more and more as I get older. Shannon always puts on a a spectacular meal, and I do love the chance to eat too much. This year, my mom is coming down from the frozen north, which will make the holiday even better.

Thanksgiving is nice in its own right, but I also like the way it kicks off the holiday season. Everyone seems a little more cheery in the five weeks or so from Thanksgiving till New Year’s Day. I like that, even if I’m not that big a fan of Christmas. The past few years, I’ve taken some time off from work between Christmas and New Year’s, and had a lot of fun with the girls.

A lot of that fun centers on good winter weather: cold, at the very least, and snow at best. November is the first month that we here in Minnesota can expect snow in serious quantities. This year we had a "winter" storm in May, but that was six months ago already. Winter’s return is always a happy prospect for me. The snow covers up the autumnal colors that peak early in November before turning to a dull palette of grays and browns, but snow also offers all kinds of new fun: sledding, snowmen, snowball fights, skiing, and of course fatbiking.

This year, I’m going to jump on two other November-focused bandwagons: "Movember," when men grow out their moustaches, nominally to raise awareness of men’s health issues; and various "30 days of writing" projects – novels, academic writing, etc. Participating in the former entails simply not shaving, which is easy but also satisfying. Participating in the latter requires a little more effort, but I’m going to try to carve out 30-60 minutes a day to work on an article on fatbiking. I hope I can put down about 200 words a day, so that I end up with a 6,000-word piece that’s part essay, part history.

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