November: The Marshmallow Month

I bloody love November. It’s the perfect balance between childish fun and self-awareness. December is just too much: come December, everyone’s disgusting merry, brimming full of festive joy with their Santa hats and Eggnog, and I find myself turning into Anne Robinson. After a few drinks, I get lippy with charity-collectors and actively cross the road when I see people with carol-books. But November has got it right, it’s like the cool Parisian brother of December, without all the garish glee; something in the air in November speaks of excitement, but in a cool European accents. The sense of things to come, new beginnings, odd traditions with friends and the chance to eat toffee apples for breakfast, makes me feel truly at home.

It’s an odd fact that some of the times I feel most connected to my country is when embarking on traditions that aren’t even a little bit British. Halloween, Bonfire Night… Like our sandwich flavours, they’re mostly stolen from America, and yet, somehow, the simple fact that idiots like me brave the freezing cold with only the dull glow of a sparkler for warmth makes me feel strangely patriotic. I love seeing all the duff things people post on Twitter during Halloween: spooky nail art, perfectly good risotto that’s been dyed black, completely inedible cupcake flavours with garish icing. Halloween’s a great time for bringing vegetables of obscure birth into undue distinction (odd sentence, I’ve been reading a lot of Austen recently) – take the humble Pumpkin, it spends all year being completely discarded as a lowly vegetable, only worthy of featuring with a bit of Lloyd Grossman curry sauce from time to time and come Halloween, it’s the coolest veggie in the patch. Suddently pumpkin is so versatile that it’s your best friend in both a sweet and savoury – why not make a sweet pumpkin pie the world says? Because it’s a root vegetable, THAT’S WHY. You don’t make parsnip petit fours, or suede soufflé, do you… But somehow Starbucks thinks it’s acceptable to slip it into a coffee (don’t try it, it tastes like soup). But that’s what I love about this time of year: the traditions themselves are just, well, a bit little silly.

Take bonfire night. My GSCE History teacher had a lisp that put me to sleep, so I know very little about the Gunpowder Plot. But what I have learnt is that thanks to Guy Fawkes, pyromania and mulling becoming completely acceptable forms of social interaction for one night only. Bonfire Night is probably the only time you can excuse yourself from a conversation to set something alight. I managed to run away from someone on Saturday with the excuse that I had melted marshmallows into my fringe. Hurrah for Fawkes, making socialising flammable! The thing is, and what November always teaches me, is that traditions don’t have to be steeped in history, poignancy or sentiment – in fact, they can be just downright silly. And the better for it.

So this is my ode to November: the silliest month of the year. Just enjoy your melted marshmallows and mulled cider while you can, before big brother December comes stomping its feet and demanding everyone be full of joy. I’m yours, November.

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