In song, November is sweet and brings with it some rain. It’s “chill and drear” in poetry, Dickinson’s “Norway of the year.” Yet fun events happen in November too!
Writers in particular have a lot of fun, thanks to NaNoWriMo. Started by freelance writer Chris Baty in July 1999, National Novel Writing Month was moved to November the following year. Participants must write 50,000 words, the minimum amount for a novel. The idea is to get aspiring writers to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). They must think quantity, not quality. Editing comes later. Those who already have a work in progress can get help for writer’s block. Did you know that many best-selling novels, including Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, started out as NaNoWriMo projects?
If you didn’t, there may be other things you’re not aware of! Every month is invariably full of awareness campaigns, and this one’s no exception. Health campaigns promote knowledge of such issues as diabetes, epilepsy, lung cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Then there’s Movember. Also known as No-Shave November, this started out as a health-awareness movement. Participants, called “Mo Bros,” are supposed to grow mustaches and beards to illustrate their goal: “to change the face of men’s health.” The aim is to promote annual medical checkups and increase early detection of diseases such as prostate cancer and depression. However, Mo Bros often just get caught up in showing off their facial hair. Besides, only men can take part.
National days of food
However, everyone can celebrate the foods of November! This is the month of the banana pudding, greens and plantains, fondue, Georgia pecan, peanut butter, pepper, pomegranate, raisin bread, spinach and squash, sweet potato, and roast anything. Such diversity! Naturally, since this is the last month of the harvest season.
In fact, according to the National Day Calendar website, every single day from the 1st to the 8th is a day dedicated to a specific food: deep-fried clams, deviled egg, sandwich, candy, doughnut, nachos, bittersweet chocolate with almonds (very specific indeed!), and cappuccino.
The 9th apparently gives you a break – much needed, probably! Then, until the 28th, the list goes on, including one day each for pizza with the works except anchovies, vichyssoise, stuffing, cranberry relish, sardines, parfait, cake and turkey (Thanksgiving Day), Bavarian cream pie, and French toast. The 29th is again free, but the 30th is National Mousse Day. I’m pretty sure that’s the dessert, not the 1980s hair-styling product.
To make room for all that bounty, you should observe National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day on the 15th. It was reportedly cooked up in 1999 by Whirlpool Home Appliances, which offered a toll-free hotline for cleaning advice! Here’s my tip: If you have to ask yourself, “What’s in this container?” then it’s definitely time to throw it away.
Throw out less
Of course, whenever you can, you should reduce, reuse and recycle instead. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American households throw out an additional 1 million tons of trash every year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. This includes food as well as wrapping paper and disposable dinnerware. How to help prevent this? Observe Use Less Stuff Day! It’s the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day.
At the same time, in the third week of November, the National Geographic Society want you to be aware of geography. Its website answers questions such as “What is geography?” and “How does GeoWeek help?” Well, if you have to ask the first question, then you need an answer to the second!
Once you’ve sharpened your geographic acumen, maybe you can win at GeoBingo on National Game and Puzzle Week. This is when you play non-electronic, socially interactive games: educational board and card games, for example. It falls during Thanksgiving week – surely no coincidence! These are exactly the kinds of games your family might play after you stuff yourselves with turkey and trimmings. In fact, that week is also National Family Week and Better Conversation Week. So don’t bring your phones to dinner!
To continue to use less stuff, you could take part in Buy Nothing Day, the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, it also happens to be Black Friday, which heralds the Christmas shopping season. But think different! Take a day off and then celebrate Small Business Saturday. This was established by American Express to help small businesses attract customers. Instead of shopping at the giganto-mall, seek out more distinctive gifts in a boutique or corner store. Also, don’t buy too many things on Cyber Monday after that – things you might end up just throwing away next year!