It’s no longer cool to bemoan the over-commercialization of Christmas. Charlie Brown beat us to it long ago and we’re still hammering it into the ground, some methods more effectively implemented than others (for instance, those who actually participate in alternative giving rather than complaining about all the materialism and then dropping a few Gs at the mall). I’ve enjoyed offering my share of complaints about a number of capitalism-fueled versions of special and often liturgical holidays. It’s all white noise, though. Everybody wants to talk about the true meaning of Christmas or remind us that Thanksgiving is more than football, turkey, and “The One Where Ross Got High” (arguably the best Friends Thanksgiving episode, toward which we can direct our due thanks for Rachel’s traditional English trifle, Phoebe’s dreams about Jacques Cousteau, and a cyclonic unearthing of Gellar family secrets). But this is the first year that I’ve felt some support around my favorite rant on seasonal behavior– and it all can be summed up in three little letters: PSL.
Sure, the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks is delicious. But you are fooling yourself if you think the world cared half as much about pumpkins and all this “OMG fall is right around the corner! #leggings #pumpkins #scarves #ilovefall #xoxoflannel” malarky before Starbucks dropped this bomb on us 10 years ago. Let’s just back up a minute. A pumpkin… is just a weird gourd that people buy to ruin and let rot on their front stoops in October. That’s always been the deal. All of a sudden, they’re the coolest things in the world and everybody can’t shut up about them. I’ve spent much of the last 5 autumns complaining about the trendiness of pumpkins and I’m here to admit that this trend may not pass. I’ve also been told by many a close friend that, for example, his mom has been making pumpkin mini-muffins his entire life. Good on you, though, Starbucks — hope you’re getting thank-you notes from all the other pumpkin-adjacent industries that are benefitting from this surge of enthusiasm about “fall things”. We should really be doing a lot of nutmeg-praising while we’re at it… sort of a horse and carriage situation. And finally, the Internet joins me in making fun of the mania surrounding this season and all its autumnal byproducts. Here are a few of my favorites:
I’ve even seen some Facebook posts about the ridiculously early opening dates of pumpkin patches — What? Your pumpkin will be totally rotten before Halloween EVEN gets here. Then you’ll have to go buy another one, I guess. You win again, capitalism. And you win too, Internet! Thanks for joining me here on the cranky train. The Holiday Police is a tough line of work, but it’s worth it if you have no need to feel vindicated or heard.
People love seasons and, obviously, fall is my favorite time of year too because it’s amazing (to no credit of the pumpkin or any of its subsidiaries). Having grown up in the South, I always yearn for that first cool morning when I can throw on my very worn-out Vanderbilt hoodie for the first time (did it this morning- BOOM) and go out of my way to step on a crunchy leaf. And I’m no Scrooge. I’ve got a ton of favorite things about the fall — the Avett Brothers’ album “I and Love and You”, the aforementioned Vandy sweatshirt, high school football (okay, college football, too = TAILGATES), hearing the echo of a drumline (preferably off in the distance, rendering me too far away to be participating in the surrounding rehearsal or performance), the first time it’s chilly enough to turn on the heated seats, but still keep the windows or sunroof open. It’s a lovely, sentimental time of year. And who am I to judge? Maybe pumpkin products are here to stay because they are particularly meaningful and personally significant to each individual who can’t shut up about them. But I’m pretty convinced it’s all because of Starbucks and that, my friends, is why I’ll only be drinking one (maybe two) tall, nonfat, with whip (YUP), PSLs this season. Not unlike Lucy’s preference of January snow, I’ll be saving my pennies for a Peppermint Mocha (but heavens– NOT until after Thanksgiving).