I wrote the following on November 1st, but could never finish it or get it quite right, so I never published it.
. . .
Today I was sweeping and washing and taking off Alice's shoes and folding and putting away and sweeping and washing and putting Alice's shoes back on, all day, without even stopping to sit down for a moment, for ten hours. Ten hours. I washed off the chalkboard in the kitchen, the calendarish one where we always write out the month and the things that will be happening. October is gone. I wrote NOVEMBER in capital letters but the word looked and felt all wrong, so I erased it again.
November means our house will get warmer and warmer as the outside gets colder and colder. Thanksgiving happens. When I was a little girl I kinda disliked the Thanksgiving activities at my grade school, mostly because they always made us go around in a circle and say the things we were thankful for, one at a time, and it filled me with anxiety. I hate going around in a circle and saying things one at a time, even now. I panic and say dumb awkward statements too quiet or too fast or both and bite the inside of my cheek while I wait for my turn, eyes frozen wide. Even though I always knew that it would be an okay free-pass answer to say that I was thankful for my family and held onto it as a backup plan, it seemed generic and dumb to me, so I would instead think really really hard trying to come up with something interesting and unexpected but still true.
(You could probably psycho analyze me and my personality based on that last part, but anyway.)
As I was doing all of the washing and shoe-tying and chalkboard-writing this afternoon, I thought long and hard about many subjects. Out of nowhere I was nearly knocked over thinking about Thanksgiving -- all the Thanksgivings I have had and all the ones I will have. How thankful I am for my family. Oh, wow. I am. I am thankful I am thankful I am thankful. For the family and cozy house of my childhood. For the family of tiny kids I have today. For the house full bigger kids and adults in my future and Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. I can't wait to have them all. This is my life, these are my years. No one gets many. I can't wait for my house to get even louder and for my kids to have conversations with each other and with me and for us to all love each other and eat a bunch of salty sweet food and maybe fight but that's okay, because you know, it's family.
I cannot believe I wrote that this month. I cannot believe my Grandma is gone. I cannot believe that we spent Thanksgiving in mourning. The family of my childhood will never be the same. The house of my childhood is empty. November, you kicked my ass.