It’s November, that sometimes awkward feeling month that isn’t really fall, but not yet winter (suddenly I have Britney Spears in my head). We are already being bombarded with trees and lights and Santa, but we haven’t yet polished off the remainder of the Halloween candy. Yet, even though we aren’t quite sure what to do with November, there are still great experiences to be had. Here are a few of my suggestions.

Photo from Urbana Boulders Facebook page

Do some exercise-type things

We are about to embark on a season of eating a lot of things. So, why not seek out some opportunities to move a bit. Not because we need to be worrying about weight, you will not find any body-shaming here. But let’s face it, we all generally feel better when we move our bodies in some sort of way. Here are a few options:

Urbana Boulders Bouldering Cup

Whether you are a climbing novice or you can easily scramble your way up a rocky cliff, this is a competition you can participate in. There will be food trucks, music, a beer garden, a raffle, and lots of climbing fun. Pre-registration ends November 9th, so be sure to get your spot now. You can find all of the details, and register, here. If you are not all about the climbing, then you are welcome to go enjoy the festivities and cheer on the climbers. 

Urbana Boulders
1502 N Cunningham, Urbana
November 16th, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ice Skating

The U of I Ice Arena just opened up their Saturday public open skates from 1:30 to 4 p.m. each Saturday, giving you added opportunities to lace up your skates and hit the ice. I try to make here at least once a year to remind myself that I can still move around the ice and generally stay upright, then I always reward myself with Murphy’s after. You can find the full list of open skate days/times below:

University of Illinois Ice Arena
406 E Armory, Champaign
Monday-Friday: 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Wednesday: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Friday (except when Illini Hockey is at home): 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Sunday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Turkey Trot

Start off your Thanksgiving Day celebration with this fun run/walk. It’s the 52nd annual event, and it’s just one mile. You can handle one mile, right? Plus, it’s free! And they give you hot chocolate. If you feel so inclined, they will be taking donations for the Urbana Park District Scholarship Fund. 

Lake House in Crystal Lake
206 W Park, Urbana
November 28th, Check in: 8 a.m. Race at 9 a.m.

© Tokeya Waci U, The Final Charge; photo from Facebook event

Learn about Native American history

November is Native American History month, so take some time to educate yourself. Yes, we asked this of you last month in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but learning is a continual thing so, you know, continue to do it. Thanksgiving, a holiday that so many of us celebrate, is often tied to a specific occasion of a meal between Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag nation in 1621. But like most history we learn in school, it ain’t that simple. Find out about actual Native history from actual Native scholars. Here’s a brief example. I’ve been reading An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, and it does a great job of highlighting just how ingrained the appropriation of Native words and concepts are in this country, whether we realize it or not. Take a lunch break to attend “Saving History from the Cowboys,” where Dr. Lindsey Stallones Marshall from American Indian Studies at U of I will help answer the question: “What do U.S. history textbooks, the Plains Wars, and horse history have to do with American's flawed public memory about Native history?” 

And while you’re in education mode, recognize what Native and Indigenous students deal with on a campus and in a community that is still holding on to a mascot that said students have indicated, time and time again, is hurtful. The Chief was ever present during homecoming weekend, prompting this letter from the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization. Read the pinned post on their page to be reminded, again, about WHY Native American mascots are a problem. 

Saving History from the Cowboys: Public Memory, Education, and Indigenizing the Archives
Bruce Nesbitt African American Cultural Center
1212 W Nevada, Urbana
November 15th, 12 to 1 p.m.

Photo by Lea Peck

Immerse yourself in holiday cheer

One of my very favorite weekends of the entire year is Thanksgiving weekend, for a multitude of reasons, only one of which is completely gorging myself on turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and green beans and pie. I’m fortunate in that I enjoy spending time with my family (I know this is not the case for everyone), and this is an opportunity to do so without all of the frenzy of finding and wrapping and returning presents. I love being back in my hometown when other friends are back as well and we can do the “let’s go out and drink the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving” thing (it’s a bit more tame than it used to be). Also, I am a shopper. I know I will be judged for this but yes, I do participate in Black Friday, but not at a fanatical level. I don’t wait in lines outside a store at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving and I don’t get in fist fights over giant TVs for $100. I get up early Friday morning, turn on Christmas music in my car for the first time, grab my one peppermint mocha from Starbucks of the season, and take advantage of a few good deals before heading back home to heat up leftovers. 

Even better than Black Friday, however, is Small Business Saturday. I try to give gifts that reflect the place that I live, and the best way to accomplish that is by shopping locally. And course, there’s the added bonus of supporting your local economy. For a more comprehensive look at where you should spend your holiday shopping dollars, stay tuned for our Shopping Guide, which will publish in a few weeks. Champaign Center Partnership has planned a day’s worth of Small Business Saturday activities in Downtown Champaign. Those include: a holiday market at SoDo Theatre, horse and carriage rides, a “find Frosty” scavenger hunt which takes you to various local businesses, and more. This all culminates in the Parade of Lights, which starts at 6 p.m. If you are ready to throw yourself into festive-ness, this is your opportunity to do so. 

You can find all of the important details here.

Small Business Saturday and Parade of Lights
Downtown Champaign
November 30th, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Top photo from Urbana Park District Facebook page