Kat Alperin

November’s identity crisis: Autumn’s premature death and rebirth as the Christmas season

From red cups to candy canes, autumn suffers from a barrage of early winter festivities


Aisles lined with icicle lights, candy canes of all flavors, stoic nutcrackers and holly wreaths accompany advertisements for peppermint ice cream, gingerbread coffee creamer and eggnog. Holiday nostalgia begins to return with the familiar sound of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” ringing from overhead speakers in department stores. Shoppers begin clipping coupons for the deals of the season.

It is the first of November.

Each year the autumn season becomes shorter and shorter as Christmas seems to be anticipated with greater fervor than ever before. Come the night of Halloween, stores already have their holiday displays lined up, prepared to trade in candy corn for candy canes at the stroke of midnight. The autumnal season is severely overshadowed as the enticement of holiday profits lures stores to succumb to the commercialistic perversion of December.

A drastic change can be observed in many instances. For example, Lewis & Clark’s local Fred Meyer has already torn down any trace of the caramel apple lollipops or orange and red leaf wreaths that suggested the presence of fall and replaced it with a full-blown Christmas section. Even Starbucks has jumped the gun when it comes to seasonal flavors. Come the start of November, the famed pumpkin spice latte was replaced by its gingerbread counterpart and the peppermint mocha and the cups have changed to the festive red.

Fall was just a flash between the summer season and the holidays. Whatever happened to the excitement over a Thanksgiving turkey or fresh pumpkin pie? Gone is the anticipation of daylight savings, when the world begins to wind down and prepare for winter’s chill, the weather toggling between crisp mornings and glowing afternoons. Trees afire with leaves of burgundy and gold become dull in the mind’s eye. The overripe fruits of autumnal harvest rot in their cornucopia as they become forgotten. Snowflake cutouts are pasted onto windows that still overlook pumpkin patches.

While December holidays hold a legitimate purpose other than fantasies of Santa and flying reindeer, the Thanksgiving season also has its principles. Although many argue that Thanksgiving is a celebration of colonialism, it continues to remind many more of the value of being thankful. From an elementary age, children are exposed to projects, for example, in which they write about what they are thankful for, such as family or their pet goldfish. This ability to acknowledge and appreciate the good aspects of our lives and learn to humbly express gratitude for such privileges is a skill that should not be overshadowed by the materialistic spin commercialism put on winter holidays by beginning the season prematurely.

Thanksgiving becomes even more insignificant due to the mass hysteria over Black Friday sales. Note that the name specifies “Friday,” yet people insist on wasting away their Thanksgiving Thursday so that they can set up camps outside storefronts. In recent years, the apparent stress and competitive edge that arises from the attempt to purchase sale items before they disappear has caused tents to crop up on sidewalks; people have visibly transitioned from occupying lawn chairs to setting up full sleep accommodations in order to be at the prime state of readiness, making it seem as though shantytowns are making a comeback.

If Thanksgiving is truly a day that revolves around colonialism, it could be said that Black Friday participants are correctly observing this holiday as they move to conquer storefronts with their dedicated methods of occupation. Indoors, it wouldn’t be surprising to see shoppers in stores such as Wal-Mart enjoying their Thanksgiving spread as they peruse aisles while mounted upon chariots of electric chairs. Avarice thus blinds many as family time on Thanksgiving is spent waiting in line, people anticipating the goodies that reside within warehouses rather than enjoying familial company. Though impressive items may be purchased at cut prices, these material goods in no way contribute to the richness of life in comparison to the wealth gained by spending time with those dear to our hearts as well as gratefully reflecting upon what we already possess rather than what we can still buy.

While it is commonly viewed as a minor season in comparison to the holidays that follow, the beauty and value of autumn should not be cut short by the early introduction of yuletide commercialism such as the abominable Black Friday sales. Fall should instead be savored rather than swept under the skirt of a Christmas tree.

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