Flying (Mostly) Solo: Fall In!

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Pumpkin Loaf now appearing at Starbucks

By Chris Watson

Here is a great advantage to having school age children in our lives: they tell us what holiday to celebrate. Without their enthusiastic excitement over President’s Day and colorful pasta and construction paper artwork, those of us living solo or in pairs are left to depend on retail stores and advertising to tell us what holiday to enjoy…and they both lie.

Fall Decorations
Fall Decorations

This has become particularly apparent this “Fall” season. I use to believe that football and sweatshirts with school logos were the sure give away for Fall. Both of these accompanied, at least in this part of the country, genuine evidence of Fall, including a night or two a week of cooler weather and having to pay attention to school zones. School, unfortunately for kids everywhere, is starting when tank tops, not sweatshirts, are more the norm and football….

Sports Year Round

Football has become a year round thing. And who can blame the marketing surrounding football? It is by far the largest, most enthusiastically followed sport in the country (an estimated $12 billion in 2014 and growing yearly by double digits according to

Game Day cup cakes...in this case OSU colors
Game Day cup cakes…in this case OSU colors

CNN Money). So we have fantasy drafts, fantasy draft magazines, fantasy draft parties, and pre-season tailgate warm up parties along with every soda and chip appearing with a football theme sometime before the Fourth of July sparklers are even cold. The NFL Draft, which is now treated more like a Conclave of the College of Cardinals than a simple contract signing, is in late April.

Then there is the combine. This is where we watch very healthy young men demonstrate skills that, theoretically, they will need to be drafted…not play football…just get noticed. It is reminiscent of boot camp in the Navy. We never actually put out any fires or stopped any flooding but we knew fire and flooding were bad and carried around fire extinguishers to get use to the weight.

Other sports are just as greedy for seasonal time. Baseball, if the World Series goes the distance, will last until November (anybody remember Mr. October? In today’s day and age Reggie would be considered a “loser” for not going the distance). The final NBA game of 2016 was in mid June. At least we still have March Madness. However, if current trends persist that will start around Valentine’s Day and continue until Cinco De Mayo.

Feeding Frenzy

Sports aren’t the only guilty party in the blur of seasonal lines. Pumpkin spice drinks started appearing around town in middle August. Most of us were still contemplating swimming, boating, and the grilling of hotdogs in August. Pumpkin pie was, or at least it use to be, MONTHS away. Halloween costume stores staked out their territory the first week in September.

A variety of fall favorites, or at least fall colored favorites, available at a local megamart
A variety of fall favorites, or at least fall colored favorites, available at a local megamart

I did see one interesting spin. I saw S’more candy corn, which strikes me as both summer and fall. Of course, at the same store I saw an explosion of the traditional “Fall” flavored items appearing, including pumpkin ice creams and cheesecakes along with a variety of more traditional “Fall” items like turkey and stuffing. These showed up the first week in September.

The Bully of Holidays

Nothing, and I mean nothing, however, compares to Christmas and it’s invasion of our time and space. At a mega discount store I wandered down the holiday isle that had, opposing each other like the Korea’s across the DMZ, Christmas and Halloween decorations. Poor Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day never stood a chance. Here in September the two holiday super powers are already fighting it out for supremacy.

If you think about it Christmas already gets a bit of a preview season in “July”. If retailers had their way we would already be buying for Christmas, in the hopes that we will somehow “lose” what we bought and buy even more in December, then buy even more right after Christmas with all the last minute gift cards someone else bought us because the gift they bought us in September seemed enough at the time but now seems small under the massive artificial tree we bought in August.

Christmas and Halloween collide at a local mega mart
Christmas and Halloween collide at a local mega mart

So what is the answer this lack of seasonal lines? I am not suggesting that we get out the glue and glitter and make our own holiday pictures, although with the current craze in adult coloring books that might be possible. No, I am suggesting we ignore what the retailers, sports teams, and marketers are telling us.

Summer doesn’t end for another week. It certainly didn’t end in August. Christmas doesn’t’ start until AFTER Thanksgiving, and given my personal love of turkey and dressing I intend to enjoy those precious 3 ½ weeks after Halloween to their fullest. Then, and ONLY then will I start looking at egg nog flavored anything. New’s Year’s 2017 is still over one hundred days away…I intend to celebrate every one of them.