16th November 2022

Thomas Hood’s poem ‘November’ captures the usual bleakness of the month, in a quirkily punning way that usually raises a smile despite the ostensible negativity of the text. But it is not only in the natural world that November is marked by a sense of loss or absence; the month begins with the Feast of All Saints, when the Church remembers with gratitude those who have gone before us in the faith, and I’m writing this on Remembrance Sunday, when the nation remembers with gratitude the ultimate sacrifice of those who have given their lives in war. Beyond those collective rituals, the month also has personal resonance for my family, in that it contains the anniversaries of my mother’s birth and death. And while here too there is gratitude for all the life and love we shared, there is also still the dull ache of premature loss and unrealised potential as the anniversaries roll around.

Yet this November has suddenly become different. A few hours ago, I learned of the birth of my new great nephew, at the time of writing still too young even to have a name, yet already so long anticipated and so much loved by so many people. His arrival is a reminder, not just of the inevitable cycles of love, loss and renewal that are common to every family, but of the everyday miracles that are no less miraculous for their ordinariness, and of the hope that springs from any new birth. In these short, dark November days, with bad news streaming constantly from our TVs and radios, it feels like a foretaste of Christmas…

Debbie Pinfold