It is common knowledge among my family and friends that I’m in love with this time of year. I don’t know what it is about October, but there is something about this month that makes me feel warm and giddy. It doesn’t matter if the weather doesn’t perfectly cooperate with my seasonal hopes and dreams (although I would much prefer cooler temperatures and rainy days), I still feel enraptured by fall’s embrace.

To me, the beginning of fall means the holiday season is right around the corner. October ushers in seasonal change that brings cooler weather, beautiful decorations, special time with family and friends, and just general congeniality between strangers. Just as the leaves begin to change, so do our priorities and focus. Fall seems to ignite a flame that warms our hearts and minds as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I am partial to this time of year because it encourages me to focus on what is truly important. It is so easy to become immersed by the negativity and stress that everyday life brings, that we miss finding joy in the people and things right in front of us. This season encourages us to acknowledge the changes happening around us, and reminds us to slow down and be intentional about expressing gratitude, love, and affection for those we care about, and even those we don’t. It compels us to recognize and confront our Scrooge-like mindsets and encourages us to see the good in others, set aside our differences, and come together to enjoy one another’s company.

October may not be considered part of the “holiday season,” but to me, it is just as essential. It ushers in a change in mindset and a refocusing of priorities that I truly need and desire. Even as the warm evenings are replaced with cold nights, I find myself warmed reflecting on what is truly important, and being grateful for what I have right now.