I expect you blokes think November is all about you.
You are walking tall, fresh from your lead role on the manly night that is bonfire night.
You held tapers, you lit rockets, you kept everyone well back until you had tipped the empties into a bucket of water.
You were the king of November 5. The smoke, the sparklers, the pies - for those dark, flame-lit hours, you were practically a caveman again.
You probably made plans to rake up all the leaves around your cave, I mean house, and burn them clean away, such was the elemental pull of the evening.
And now, to top off a masculine month, you are growing a Movember moustache, another thing women can’t do - or so we tell you. Sometimes, our bathroom shelves tell a different story, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Back to manly November: there is something you don’t know. Until now. I am about to lift the veil on the secret life of this month that is seemingly yours, and you will be amazed.
For while you are tending your bonfires and moustaches, women are plotting.
As you study your stubble in the bathroom mirror, they are having whispered, fleeting conversations about who has achieved what, who plans to do what, and how deep into the process they have dug.
They spare each other the details - everyone knows what has to be done - but they offer a quick overview:
If you are paying attention, it is possible to catch snippets as you pass:
“I’ve ordered all the main ones online....”;
“I made three last week…”
“I’ve got all the ingredients, even that obscure brand of sherry…”
They’re talking Christmas of course. But not just talking. They are planning, plotting, indulging in a fantasy.
Because the fantasy of everyone woman in 2016 is to Get The Work Done in November.
On this we are as one. There is no Christmas School, no one has taught us that this is the best way to proceed.
But by various paths, through different experiences, we have all come to this same secret plan: Get The Work Done in November.
It’s the only way. The only way to stand a chance of enjoying that end-of-season carnival that is December.
Because that is what Christmas has become - a month-long fantasia.
If we were to do what the purists say, and keep Christmas in December, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
The whole month would be an unrelenting treadmill of work. Work at work, work at home, work at the weekends. We would collapse into exhausted despair with the stress of it all. We would go under, with fixed smiles on our faces, but we would definitely go under.
We know this, because it has happened before.
So we begin our self-preservation in November, but quietly because we know there are people who don’t approve: these are people who don’t have to make Christmas happen.
Those of us who do have strategies.
We begin to fill corners of the house with gifts, then we buy paper, tags, sticky tape and festive gift bags, and the wrapping begins.
We clear a space in the kitchen or the garage and begin to fill it with chocolates and cheese biscuits and huge foil containers.
We do all this now in the hope that, come the month, we will actually be able to join in the fun: the carol concert, the holly picking, that showing of It’s A Wonderful Life.
We want to be there amongst the action, not in the supermarket with a trolley full of crisps and Cava.
But we know there are people who won’t understand, so we keep quiet, and pretend November belongs to the men.
But it doesn’t. November has a secret life, and it is all about the women.