I ask: Did you survive the slaughter that November brought? You wonder: what slaughter? November is a tricky psychologically haunting month. In the US we hold local and national elections, followed by the National Chaos Never Ends Day. I am not too sure many people were aware of the actual observance, but I am fairly sure many felt it. In November, we observe Veteran’s day; yet we know that many are suffering from PTSD and as a nation we are a bit at a lost as to how to tackle that. Then we have a day of thanks intertwined with days of shopping mayhem where people Taser and punch each other over $50 off a big screen television. The first Sunday in November marks the end of daylight savings time and we get to set the clocks back. The days get shorter and we spend more time in the dark. It’s time to take out the light therapy lamps to protect against the rapidly oncoming winter blues. To top it all off, November 2nd is National Deviled Egg Day. Eek. That is one of my least favorite things in the world. How can a month exalt both deviled eggs and pumpkin pie? Shake my head.
This past November started off with the devastating Typhoon Haiyan-which seems to no longer be on the minds of the media outlets. Estimates are that 5,300 lives may have been lost. Here in the United States, the media has been obsessed as of late with the re-launching of the ObamaCare website which occurred at the end of November. Next up will be another possible government shutdown. Speaking of media, did you know that November 8 is National Dunce Day? It is actually a celebration of a catholic figure, but the dance cap can be quite an appropriate accessory for many these days. I don’t know about you but everyday feels like national dunce day. Sometimes I feel like I am being punk’d old-school style. I keep waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out and go “psych they were all just acting dumb to trick you”.
November besides being a time for increasing attention on men’s health issues is also a time for writing. I know, I know. I am a little late in realizing that November was National Blog Posting Month. Apparently, it goes by the shorthand of NaBloPoMo. The irony of me having an active blog post page doesn’t escape me. What can I say? I was super busy writing tedious grant-related items. One can say I was on the writing margins this past month. Speaking of margins, or rather, marginalization, November is also a time to recognize those that are often on the margins of life. For example, Transgender Day of Remembrance has occurred on November 20 each year in the United States since 1999; and there is also National homeless LGBT youth awareness month. It is such a strange month in which we hone in on our words and thoughts but also give pause to consider those on the extreme margins of life.
Further, did you know that in the month of November, the Catholic Church observes Holy Souls in Purgatory? This observance is for those Christians who have died but who still must atone for their sins. The time they spend in Purgatory cleanses them so that they may enter Heaven free from all effects of sin. I think I caught a Supernatural episode on this at some point a while back. I just really learned about this when my son came home talking about how Sonic the hedgehog will help some “holey” people. At least that is what I thought he said.
Considering that November is writing month as well as an observance of Holy Souls, it is quite appropriate that November 1 is also “Plan Your Epitaph Day”. Why wouldn’t you want to start the month off planning what your gravestone will say? Morbid much? Then again, considering that the Dutch name for November is ‘slachtmaand’ (slaughter month) it may very well be quite apropos. Although, I believe the name really comes from the harvest period and the killing of animals. In Old English November was ‘Blotmonath’ (blood or sacrifice month). Specifically, those items that have been harvested in the previous months are either put inside the storage or sent to processing plants or mills. And so goes the dance of fertility and death ever more heightened in the month of November.
At the end of it all, there is a lot more to November than turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. I leave you with some words from Guns ‘N Roses opus power ballad “November Rain”
“’Cause nothin’ lasts forever and we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain”