Doireann de Courcy Mac Donnell
My recommendation for a November mood booster is the humble hot-water bottle. Cold? Hot water bottle. That time of the month again? Hot water bottle. Want to warm up your bed before you hop into it? Hot water bottle. Missing physical human connection and intimacy? Hug your hot water bottle!
To attain the comfort you are pining, all you have to do is boil the kettle, fill the plastic pouch (carefully- the best way to fill your hot water bottle is by resting it on your countertop and holding the nozzle at 90o, gently pouring until you can see the water. While this doesn’t fill the bottle up completely, it stops air becoming trapped and reduces the risk of you accidentally bursting it as you roll over during your third sleep cycle. In addition, after screwing the cap on tight, I always give a shake over the sink - just in case) and ta da, you’re good to go!
The hot water bottle does not get nearly enough praise. For a mere 5 quid, it is instant joy, always there for you, and never asks anything in return. Usually cloaked in a soft blanket-like cover, by the time it takes you to boil the kettle you have yourself your own personal beacon of cosy warmth. Indulge this November, thank me later.
November isn’t my favourite month. I doubt it’s anyone's. Halloween is over and done with, and with the year we’ve had there aren’t even left-over sweets to last until Christmas treats come into season.
I’m not big into Halloween anyway. Scary YouTube ads that are unskippable, no more trick-or-treating after the age of 12, and people going out of their way to try and disgust and creep out others. But November is just bland. Like a luke-warm bowl of Ready Brek. Christmas is where it's at. Fairytale of New York is already playing on repeat in my head.
Halloween to me is all about the nostalgia of being a kid. It’s about the big smile on kids’ faces when they get tonnes of sweets from every door and compliments on their costumes. Christmas is all about family, whether its blood or found family and November is just the filler episodes between the two.
This November, instead of just doing the annual screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas and waiting for Xmas FM to start back up, I decided to bring the little joy that I could to the kids. I knit and crochet in my spare time, so I made them both a little crocheted player from their favourite football team. The smiles I got from them both over a zoom call with their Mam was enough to make my week.
My recommendation for this November? Do something kind for the kids. They might not totally understand why they can’t go out, but in years to come, they’ll look back fondly at the little things you did to make things better for them.
There’s something unmistakably romantic in looking out the window of Dublin Bus and watching the low sun wash over the city. You can only get the pleasure of this particular golden colour in winter. Picture this, you and your French press outside, fighting back the icy air with every sip of your coffee. You might think it was the coffee that made this act so enjoyable, but when you witness the spectacular light show in front of you, you’ll come to see that it’s something more than that. It’s as if a constant filter is on the world in November. The cast of the golden low sun of November, makes the world look like a Renaissance painting.
In a world where you can get nearly every food with a sell-by date that surpasses your own lifetime, there’s something so beautiful in knowing that there’s only a short window of opportunity to see this golden hue. I’m sure a lot of us are struggling to keep upbeat this winter, in the absence of our close circle of family and friends. Keeping our energy level high can be exhausting. But it would be arrogant to maintain that the conditions that we find ourselves in are immune to the cyclical nature of life. The winter days are short and cold, but when you focus on the beauty of this golden hue, the days seem a lot brighter and longer.
And sooner than you might notice, winter will end, and the sun will be high again.
With four more weeks of lockdown before we can get back to some semblance of normality, it’s hard to stay positive right now. We all need to find a few things in the day to pick ourselves up. And there are plenty of ways to try and do it.
I have been taking more long walks in the countryside within my 5km, and taking the time to sit down on the grass and just watch the world go by. If you don’t have that option, maybe buy yourself a new game on whatever platform you use. Search your local bookstore or an Irish retailer online for a new book to bury yourself in. Maybe watch a new sport and learn the rules and the athlete's names. Play some games of Among Us, the community is very caring in my experience.
Whatever you do, don’t put pressure on yourself to constantly be happy. These are hard times for everyone, so just try and find those little things each day, and if you can’t today then you’ll definitely find one tomorrow. Take care of yourselves.