Detail from William Merritt Chase, Autumn Still Life (1906)

September comes to an end, and with it the year. You’ve already forgotten about Labor Day, haven’t you? September’s when you got organized, did your job with that back-to-school fervor, and began the sprint that will take you through December. It will be perfect. Every day will be perfect. With guidance, and conviction. Maybe a calendar.

Put the white clothes away; pull down the sweaters. There will be a new lodge opening upstate. No, Vermont. Maine, even, or Idaho. This year you’ll finally pick those apples—after the hike, Instagrams of colorful leaves and small-town quaintness. Indulge in the rustic charm, the foliage, football, prestige TV.

Go home and bake a pie. Or make applesauce. Or help someone else bake a pie. Or buy applesauce. When will you start to think about Halloween costumes? Don’t settle on something last-minute, again. Not this year. Plan; shop. Accept party invitations, both work and social. Get your gourds or don’t.

Go pick a pumpkin. Go buy a pumpkin. Drink your autumn beverages and wonder if there’s actually any pumpkin in them. Probably not. There isn’t.

It’s Halloween. Do not drink too much and do not eat too much candy. Remember, this is for the children. Take a moment to delete incriminating photos in the aftermath.

Sing “When The Saints Go Marching In.” Nine weeks remain till 2018. That’s 63 days, give or take.

Apple cider! Hot apple cider! More apples. When is too soon to buy eggnog? How much research goes into finding the best eggnog? You know, the healthy one. Or the tasty one. Should you buy it before or after the elections this year? It depends on your political leaning. Eggnog is creamy, comforting. After sounds right. Get the tasty one.

Two weeks till Thanksgiving. What happens in November? Did we miss fall? No. Consider everything else required of the season. More sports. Resume Thanksgiving planning. How long does it take to reserve a turkey?

Have invitations been sent or received? Has attendance been confirmed? Should the Wednesday beforehand be taken off? Did the company give you Friday? Is there a good Thanksgiving film? Trains, Planes and Automobiles. Maybe The Ice Storm. Should they be watched before, during, or after?

No, sports. Yes, people put sports on. No Thanksgiving playlist, unless there’s jazz. But isn’t jazz more of a summer thing? Family visits. Visiting family members. Travel. Bookings. Is this what spreadsheets are for?

How many friends can come to the family function? Can one invite family to the Friendsgiving?

Leftovers.

But cooking first. Who is cooking? What does one bring? Is this what spreadsheets are for?

Is Thanksgiving a valid occasion for good wine? If there’s a well-timed announcement. You’re getting married? Jim is getting married! Uncle Frank is getting divorced. Will there be cranberry sauce? Wait — gelatin. Make it yourself, gluten-free and without all the horse. Sculpt the can-lines carefully to engage your nostalgia. Reserve a handful of hours to do this. Remember that it takes 15 minutes per pound to cook that happy turkey.

Is it seasonally appropriate to continue watching the horror film list that was not finished? So many phone calls need to be made. Schedule them. November is gone. Did we have the eggnog? Do we like eggnog? Was there rum in it? How could we have forgotten the rum?

What pie are we on? No, really, what pie? There are 31 days in December.

There will be craft markets. Seasonal entertainment — physical and mental. Christmas episodes! Is this the year ice skating will feel fun? Shall we save the ski trip for February, when the darkness really weighs upon the soul? How much cinnamon can be consumed on a daily basis? WebMD says too much can be toxic.

The wines get darker; the coffee hotter. Did you know a thin sweater can work just as well as a thick one, depending on the fiber? Still, sweaters are not enough now.

Scarves. Gloves. Napping furs. What box are they in? Which closet?

Wait, napping furs? No, that’s fantastical and unethical. Who has furs for napping?

The average first snowfall strikes New York City on December 14th, though in 1952 it hit on October 21st. For Washington, DC, it’s four days later. Flurries. Snow days. Sick days. Will we have a white Christmas? Was there actually a day scheduled for baking?

Baking is a nice group activity. No, better alone. The results are giftable. That’s the treat. Christmas cookies? No, that recipe is in the cookbook in the closet with the decorations.

Decorating. Yes, invite people over for this. Nevermind, there isn’t time. Find the decorations. Use a recipe you found online for the cookies. Go nuts, but be mindful of those with allergies.

Is it unreasonable to desire a tree from Connecticut, grown happily under the watch of no one but the weather? There are trees on the corner. Walk through and inhale deeply and remember, for just one moment, the true meaning of Christmas. Where do those trees come from? How many must die?

Perhaps buy a wreath. Where will it hang? Where do city wreaths go—on the door facing inward, for personal pleasure? Where do the unsold trees go when the holidays come?

Make a calendar appointment that reads “pace yourself” and schedule it for 30 minutes before the company holiday party. If only you had been allowed to bring a guest! Were you though? Did you bring the spouse? A friend? Was Tinder good to you this year?

Amazon ships in 24 hours. This is also a good time to send out the holiday cards. Perhaps finish writing last year’s. This is the great joy of forever stamps.

Have you started on the Christmas movies yet? Who thought Bad Santa 2 was good? Why is that happening? Does it matter which Miracle on 34th one watches? It’s hard to say. You can watch the entire 1984 made-for-TV movie The Night They Saved Christmas on YouTube, if you search hard enough.

Where was the weirdest place you dropped that cinnamon stick? Be honest. The last day of fall is December 20th. It was a season. It did exist. But now it’s winter. Hanukkah starts 13 days before Christmas this year. And Christmas is a Monday.

Put that festive sweater on—and perhaps locate your bathing suit. New Years. Did you forget to make New Year’s plans? Is there a bonus this year? Is there an app for that? Eat. Sleep. Eat more. Sleep in. Unwrap. Throw out. Hug. Love. Say, “Happy Hanukkah.” Say, “Merry Christmas.” Say, “Happy Holidays.” Make more phone calls. Be grateful.

Breathe. Isn’t that nice? It’s actually been nice! Honestly, it’s nice.

But there’s no time to work. No one will answer the phone. What really happens in the days between Christmas and New Year? It’s impossible to remember. For certain, though, no one selects a resolution until the fateful day.

Travel. Or, don’t. Dress up. Open your spirit to the people around. Kiss someone who loves you.

David Graver

David Graver is senior editor at lifestyle and design website Cool Hunting. His writing has appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Vice and Surface.

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