What a wonderful time of year, when the leaves are showing us their brilliant colors and reminding us that they too have a routine to follow. Here in North Carolina, we may see our first frost, yet have a weekend of 70 degree days. Those are the days I yearn for, as the sun warms my face and arms just enough to feel comfortable, not too hot or too cold. It’s the weather that we need to dress in layers for.Walking out of the sun and into the shade, you’ll most likely feel the autumn chill sweep through you.The turning leaves are the first glimpse for what’s to come. Hot tea becomes a necessity rather than an option. Fall squashes fill the farmer’s market stands and supermarket shelves to be purchased and made into velvety soups. One might save the squash’s seeds to plant for next fall’s harvest or choose to eagerly clean the seeds to roast for a crunchy, salty treat.

November also brings around my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I may be biased, as November is also my birth month. However, this gives me more to be thankful for.As we enter the holiday season and the nights are lengthening, there’s warmth in the air by the glowing decorations and lights being hung on the streets and in stores.This season lasts for 8 weeks at most. What a time to live in the present.

Turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie ring a bell in our minds that for this one day, we are able to relax with friends and family. We get to ooh and ahh at the floats in the Macy’s day parade as we prepare our feast to have later that day. The NFL football game may also be watched while sipping crisp beverages. After grace is said, and before we sink our teeth into this marvelous meal, pause for a minute. Think about the smell that’s looming in the dining room air. Look at the deep red hue of the cranberry sauce, the golden breast of the turkey. Taste the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the caramelizationof the Brussels sprouts.  How do these flavors meld together with each other and pair with your pint of autumn ale or glass of Beaujolais wine?

 Thanksgiving is a day where the meal is meant to be savored, talked about, reminisced about from years prior. It is a day where we publicly acknowledge what we are grateful for. It’s a time to look at the past year and reflect. We tend to save these reflections and public acknowledgements of gratefulness for only the holiday season. In order to embrace life, we need to make this a daily routine. This may mean pausing for a minute during lunch or the work day, reflecting or meditating in the evening, or simply tasting the flavors of our food at our meals.

 As we move from Thanksgiving into the Christmas season, take a minute to feel the chill in the air, and appreciate it. Smile when we have to put on our boots, jackets and mittens. The earth is letting us know it’s time to look inward and appreciate what we have. Hold a warm mug of soup in your hands, sip on it, knowing it’s warming your body and mind. We have ever so much to be grateful for, take the time to enjoy every bite and appreciate the people you share this moment with.