The season of letting go

And as the pumpkins sit, frostbitten and unnoticed, gradually losing their masterfully carved faces to eventual decomposition even in swiftly dropping temperatures, we empty the candy bowls, gather up the strewn wrappers and pack up the spider webs.

We’ve lost our enthusiasm for pumpkin spice and the fall foliage has gone from being captivating on trees to more of a nuisance that needs removing from our front lawns.

Halloween is over.

The anticipation of pretending to be whoever you wanted to be from under a mask and cape is over and the manic scurrying of little goblins from one porch-lit house to another has come to an end.  The costumes are stuffed in the toy box and the winter layers worn over them as protection from a chilly Northern Maine evening of trick or treating are hung on the coat racks, ready to be used again the next day.  The bag of sweet treasures has been carefully sorted, traded and hidden from your little sister in that secret place nobody knows about.

Except for your mother.  She knows exactly where it’s hidden and no, she has no idea why all the Twix, Kit-Kat and Reece’s cups are missing.

But the novelty of eating too much candy has worn off, the jack-o-lanterns are just in the way at this point and we’re ready for what happens next.

Because that’s what we do.  We get ready for what happens next, sometimes even in the middle of what’s happening now.

Wandering around my favorite drug store, stuffing my basket with bags of Halloween candy and fake blood, I somehow end up in the Christmas aisle, suddenly feeling so warm and excited for the eruption of green and red merriment in my home, almost forgetting I’m in the middle of orange and black fun right now.

Changing seasons and the holidays that come with each mean so much to us and we’re always looking ahead.

We’ve had our season of warm sunshine, long days, lush greens and flowing water.  And for every 9:00pm sunset we were grateful.  For every early morning ray of sun that streamed into our bedrooms, waking us before our alarm clocks, we were happy to see it. The long evenings always seeming to last forever as the sky dimmed way past our bedtime.  And another last-minute barbeque and get-together at the lake because the warm air was just too perfect to waste inside.

And even before the humidity of late August lifted, we began romanticizing over hay rides through pumpkin patches and layers of bright autumn colors, both on our shoulders and on the painted maples.

And we repeat these cycles of anticipation, just before each season and holiday tradition, almost as if they’re entirely new experiences for us, something we haven’t participated in every single year of our lives.  But we have.  We have the boxes and plastic totes stored in our basements to prove it.  Boxes filled to the top with Christmas garland, Fourth of July picnic platters, “Happy Fall Y’all” refrigerator magnets, brightly colored Easter baskets and decorative “Welcome Spring” flags that signify the end of smelly wet mittens and the beginning of mud all over your shoes and also pretty much all over everything else.

We know that when one festive tradition has ended, we have another to look forward to, another tote to haul up from the basement so we can gleefully paw through each item, almost like we’re seeing the contents for the first time.  And in some curious subconscious way, revisiting the classic Christmas cartoons feels like a novelty doesn’t it?  Like, will the Grinch’s little reindeer dog actually be able to pull that sleigh all the way up the hill?  Maybe Frosty won’t melt this time!  And yes, I cry every single time the bell rings and Clarence gets his wings.

Every time.

And now here we are in November and although it’s time to put down the bowl of Halloween candy, seriously, put it down, it’s also not quite time to hurl ourselves into the frenzied holiday uproar, into that constant hum of silver bells and good cheer that makes us feel so lovely and welcomed.  But even though it’s not quite time, it’s so close we’re all on edge, waiting.  There’s this unspoken countdown to that annual interlude, the few weeks every year where we become grateful for one another and are filled with that real sense of lasting goodwill.  Lasting goodwill that somehow seems to dwindle sometime mid-January…

So hello dear November; here we are lingering amidst the season of grays, browns and dullness.  The season of letting go.  Letting go just before the explosion of clean white snow, striped candy and twinkling lights.  Giving ourselves permission to bid farewell to the colorful leaves, sunken jack-o-lanterns and summer vacation memories strewn at our feet.

There is a quiet beauty in allowing ourselves a moment in between the sleepiness of brownish-gray and the anticipation of white.

The quiet beauty could be running my fingers along the thick cozy folds of my warmest socks as I move my favorite jean shorts towards the back of the closet.  It could be taking one last look at my fading suntan before wrapping my skin under warm cable-knit sweaters for the next few months.  The quiet beauty could be tunneling inside my softest down comforter with my son and appreciating the shorter, colder days as more time to snuggle and recharge.

This quiet, beautiful season falls just after the sleepy end of harvest and just before the liveliness of the holidays, and I’m enjoying it by letting go.  I’m quietly bracing myself for what comes next, all its incredible joy and letting go.

Letting go of this outrageous political season and remembering why the upcoming holiday season exists, why we long for the warmth of December all year long, why the only reason we should shed tears is when those damn bells ring and Clarence gets his wings.  I can’t wait to watch; I hear it’s a wonderful movie.

Renée Chalou

About Renée Chalou

Renée Chalou lives and raises her family in Presque Isle, where she owns a fitness center, LiveWell United. Her oldest son is in his second year at UMO, her daughter plans to attend UMPI in the spring and her youngest son is an active, happy 11 year old in 6th grade. From her life experiences as a homeschooling parent, blending a family, and transforming herself from an overweight, side-line mother to a competitive athlete mother and fitness leader in her community, she writes about what she knows: living life well even when it's not perfect. She writes about finding and clinging to the good even when it would be easy to focus on the bad, no matter what challenges life brings. Life in Northern Maine is wonderful, full of adventures and sub-zero temperatures. It's not for everybody and nobody claims it's easy. But it's a good life, it's hers and she'd like to share some of it with you.