November is a month of remembering. There’s Bonfire Night – “Remember, remember the 5th November: gunpowder, treason and plot!” There’s also All Souls’ Day when we remember loved ones who have died. Then there’s Remembrance Sunday when we think about all those who have served in the armed forces and fought and died for our freedom. This year 10th November is the day on which Muslims remember the Prophet’s birthday. And there’s Transgender Day of Remembrance today as well.

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November seems like a good month to spend focussing outwards like this. It is a dark and stormy month with short days and often lots of rain. It can be difficult to find anything to lift our spirits and the temptation is to hunker down and become inward-looking, giving in to feelings of gloom and doom. Stopping to remember what other people have done for us, however, can help us realise how much we have to give thanks for.

I find that I am thinking a lot about my mum and grandma this month. They are both no longer with us, but the things that they taught me are still important and I am starting to pass them on to my children now. One of the things they both loved to do at the end of November was to begin thinking ahead to Christmas, and they would spend the last weekend of this month making mincemeat and Christmas cake and Christmas pudding mix. Here is the recipe for mincemeat which they passed down to me and which I will be making over the next couple of weekends. You can find it in my almanac for children, Nature Month-by-Month, published by Nosy Crow and the National Trust.

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If you are looking back and remembering someone special this month, my heart goes out to you. And if you are looking forward to Christmas, you’d better get baking!