It’s definitely deep fall. I can’t cheerfully deny it any longer. And, yes, I know, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. I mean, early fall has long been my favorite season. But deep fall has a purgatory quality to it the same way early spring does for me. It’s got its foot in the threshold of two different seasons, and it can wreak havoc on my mind in a similar way that it does to my wardrobe.
For me, the final insult is setting our clocks back. I have to steel myself for that moment. One cheerful friend of mine remarked this morning, “It’s so nice to see the sun up so early!” And I get it. She’s right! But it still made me want to throw my phone across the room. I’m not proud of it.
I tell myself to focus on the holidays, and how it can sometimes feel festive to shop in the dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. And if we get a little snow? So much the better, right? But my arguments are thin, and I spend more time sulking than I should.
But despite all that, there is one special element inherent to this time of year which even my crabbiness cannot disregard. And it’s that strong sense of Home. For me these days, it’s all connected with my children “coming home” and wanting to make that a place where they want to be. But for you it may feel more like nesting in general. Making your home extra warm and extra inviting and extra cozy. Maybe for your young family, or for your visiting relatives, or maybe just for yourself.
My mother spent her last years in an assisted living environment and visiting her got me thinking tenderly about this survival instinct we all seem to have to create this sense of home wherever we are. Especially over the holidays. At my mother’s place, I’d walk by open doors and catch glimpses of crocheted holiday doilies and tinsel framing a family photo. I recently got my youngest daughter moved into to her freshman dorm. And walking down those halls, I noticed the same sort of thing as I saw snippets of photo collages and fairy lights around mirrors.
This will be my third Thanksgiving as a single woman. My third holiday without all the easily recognized hallmarks of the season. It was so uncomfortable at first. What worked for me then doesn’t necessarily work for me now. And it’s taken me until now to realize that the stretching we’ve all had to do to redefine this new sense of home, has been good in some ways. Because even in the best of circumstances, creating a stagnant definition of what “home” is, is impossible.
My oldest talks about the loss of home that he felt with the divorce. But he’s buying an apartment in Brooklyn and I can see him creating one of his own. My youngest hit a point recently where she really needed the support of her siblings, and they were there for her in such a beautiful way that it puts a lump in my throat.
I needed help recently, and it felt so odd to reach out to my children—but there they were. And all the space between these gestures? That’s where home for me is. It will be different for you. But keep that definition loose, because it really is all around us.
And I don’t want to miss a bit of it.