Well, it’s that time of year again, folks. When all of social media is abuzz with the passing of summer and the approaching autumn equinox. I wish I could join in the excitement, but I am a summer gal – give me perpetual summer break, beach vacations, swimming pools, sun tans, flip flops, peaches, blueberries, watermelons, ice cream, sun dresses, and running through sprinklers. I get it, you all really hate the heat. But the heat isn’t a problem if you are righteously prepared with the proper clothing, a cool drink, and a refreshing body of water in close proximity. And I recently discovered after a family trip to Providence Canyon that there is indeed a colossal difference between summer in South Georgia versus summer in North Georgia, making me thankful that we live where we do. Think fresh, sweet mountain summer breezes versus hot, wet, smoldering heat trapped inside of Satan’s bed pan, complete with plagues of gnats, flies, and mosquitoes. Why anyone would choose to live in South Georgia is beyond me. South Georgia exists simply for passing through on your way to the beach. But I digress.
While everyone else gets all romantic and celebratory during this time of year, I, once again, find myself at odds with the rest of the world. It’s not that I hate Fall. There are some elements about Fall that I really do enjoy. And I reserve my hatred for Winter, the worst and most depressing season ever. Fall is my third favorite season, after Summer and Spring. Let me explain why.
You see, I used to be just like you. I used to love Fall. Sweaters and boots. Cinnamon and pumpkin-flavored everything. However, after thirty-seven autumns, I realized that I like the idea and photoshopped pictures of Fall, much more than the reality. Let me let you in in a little secret: the fall in your head does not exist. What people, especially Southerners, think of when they envision Fall, is Fall in Canada. Or a Thomas Kincaid painting. But I have seen the light and shadows, dear Internet. And I am about to ruin Fall for you for good. This is the point of no return. Stop reading now if you want to continue living in your feverish Fall Fantasy.
Without further ado, here are 10 things that I find massively overrated about Fall:
1. Fall Festivals – These can vary from your hometown’s local homemade scarecrow competition to your standard variety elementary school fundraiser-bouncehouse-cakewalk-hell-on-earth-where-we-traipse-around-and-collect-a-bunch-o-crap-and-cheap-candy. In Georgia, we can’t even have the good stuff that would melt in the blazing heat, because who are we fooling? It’s still “summer” in Georgia until mid-November. In North Georgia we have the annual Ellijay Apple Festival, where hordes of people flock together in formation, setting up booths to hock their homemade wares, selling everything from baked goods to appliqued sweater vests. I am all in favor of unbridled capitalism. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: You can live your entire lives without most of the stuff they are trying to sell you. I have been to all of them, and I can honestly tell you that not one Fall Festival stands out in my mind as a singular life-changing experience. Rather they are all one giant recollection of me standing around, baffled by how much money we just spent, holding a bunch of unnecessary purchases, and wondering why the heck I put my family through this, year after year.
2. Football – Apparently I am the only person in the United States who feels this way, considering how much money is spent every year on tailgating, attending games, Super Bowl commercials, football paraphernalia, etc. As I carefully explain here, I was brought up in a household where American football, neither college nor NFL, was simply not prioritized. I truly do not understand, nor do I really want to, our nation’s obsession with this all-American pastime. I know. I am maybe one of 20 people living in the United States that feels this way, and I am probably the only one American-born. I am in the minority. But luckily I married someone who is just as uninterested in football as I am, for which I am incredibly thankful and do not have to feign interest in a spectator sport in order to keep my marriage alive. But before I anger an entire nation of fans, let’s just agree to disagree and move on, shall we?
3. Hay Rides – Ahh, the epitome of Fall. There is really nothing quite like snuggling up with your loved ones, all cozy and warm for a fun hay ride through the countryside. Except this is reality we are talking about. I implore you, the next time a hay ride is offered to you, decline. Instead, stand back and spectate. Pay particular attention to how miserable everyone looks. Because again, we live in Georgia. Hay rides in September are hot, sweaty, and allergy-inducing. Oh, and when was the last time you went on a hay ride WITH ACTUAL HAY ON IT? Hay is now a liability, as it might cause someone to break out into hives. Skip this one altogether, folks. Trust me. It’s not worth it. Unless of course you need to get from Point A to Point B at whatever Fall Festival at which you may find yourself hopelessly trapped. Then a “hay ride” is really just a glorified seasonal shuttle service.
4. Campfires & S’mores – By now you probably think I am a terrorist. How can someone with a soul possibly hate campfires and S’MORES for Pete’s sake?! I love a campfire, when it magically appears out of nowhere, and I don’t have to build it or tend it. I am sure there will come a day when my children will be old enough to build them and tend them for me, and then I will enjoy them. But for now, I hate them. It’s just another quaint, unnecessary, outdated practice that can be completely avoided on account of the blessed invention of electricity. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss s’mores, shall we? When was the last time you had a s’more that just really blew you away? Again, they are so awesome in your mind, aren’t they? And also low-calorie, and gluten- and sugar-free. But in reality, either the chocolate is hard and not melted properly, or it’s so hot and humid that your Honey Maid Graham Cracker soaks up so much moisture from the air that it turns into a soggy biscuit. OR just as you are about to indulge, one of your children, fighting over a s’more stick with a sibling, bumps into you and knocks your precious creation into the campfire ashes. And considering the caloric punch that it packs, is it really even worth it? I think you know the answer to that question. Furthermore, I am convinced that those who say they love making s’mores have never made them with small children, or even worse, middle schoolers. Think hordes of sugared-up Spazzy McSpazzertons running and flailing around with flaming hot, sharp spears. Safe AND fun for the whole family!
5. All Things Pumpkin – This is one of the greatest marketing scams in the 21st century. Take an otherwise useless, inedible vegetable (the carving kind), and make it a seasonal icon. After Halloween, I always feel so guilty throwing away our gutted, squandered, half-rotted Jack-o-lantern into the trash after merely serving as an object of my family’s autumnal lust for such a short period of time. And as far as the edible kind goes, I currently have 8 cans of pumpkin that I bought from 3 years ago still in my pantry, stockpiled along with all my Pinterest-y pumpkin-y high hopes and inspiration. And then one day it hit me: I’m really not even all that crazy about pumpkin stuff. I mean, it’s okay, but it is definitely not my favorite flavor of baked good. Smother it with dark chocolate and fill it with coconut and maybe THEN we’ll have something worth baking! I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s just a giant orange squash, Internet! Why do we not go equally nuts over the yellow and zucchini varieties? When, I beg of you, will Starbucks create a Summer Squash Spice latte for a demanding public? Or a Zucchini Frappucino? And while they are at it, maybe they could find a way to make them slightly less than 5000 calories per cup.
6. The “Cooler” Weather – In Georgia, we have two types of weather: Hot and humid or cold and humid. I enjoy Summer in Georgia, because I know where I stand. There are no surprises: It’s hot, so we dress minimally and/or go for a swim. All cooler weather does for me is create more laundry. My least favorite load of laundry to do is socks, because standing over a mammoth-sized steaming pile of mismatched foot-coverings for a family of six is SUCH a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Summer time flip-flops and sandals bring this at-home-mom a reprieve from sock-folding. And for whatever meteorological reason, Fall in Georgia is often wet and rainy. Which keeps my kids from playing outside. Which means we are cooped up from about November to February. Which sufferers of Season Affective Disorder like myself will tell you is no good. And here’s a free public service announcement – as I mentioned earlier, we typically do not see noticeably cooler temperatures until mid-November. Far too often, I see newbie apple-pickers in North Georgia in September wearing sweaters and boots. Trust me, I feel your pain, as I have made that mistake in the past myself. But also, I am quietly laughing at you while I am comfortably wearing shorts and sandals. Good Georgians know that we only need longer sleeves after the sun goes down in the Fall.
7. Halloween – I am convinced that all holidays were created by a group of evil masterminds designed to keep parents tired, stressed out, and weak-willed, and thus easily manipulated by marketers and advertising agencies. The only people who actually enjoy holidays are the ones who don’t put forth any effort into making them resemble the cover of a Martha Stewart magazine, i.e. men and children. Halloween was my favorite holiday as a kid with a penchant for dramatic flair. I loved the costumes and dressing up. Now as a parent of four, it’s pure torture. I think I enjoyed our first Halloween as a young family for a grand total of three minutes. Again, the idea versus that pesky reality. Back when I was a kid, we went down to K-Mart and bought a box that contained merely two-pieces – a BPA-laden, lead paint printed vinyl smock and an equally plastic, sweaty death-mask, containing eye holes through which you could barely see, and nose and mouth holes the width of tic tacs which allowed just enough air to pass through to keep you alive; and, for some inexplicable reason, always felt compelled to stick your tongue through. The entire costume cost my mother and father about $5 per kid max. Nowadays, kids either want to be the most popular Disney character of all time (I’m looking at you, Elsa!) and you can’t find the dang costume anywhere because it is completely sold out. Or when you are fortunate enough to find it, the complete ensemble costs you a mere $85 for one child by the time you purchase all the accessories. Or if you are really lucky, you have to break out and dust off the ol’ sewing machine you never use, take a crash course on Youtube, and try your hand at teaching your kids that time-honored ancient wisdom of finding their self worth through a piece of fabric. Don’t worry. Only their lifelong happiness and future as a well-adjusted and stable adult depends on it. And then after spending all that time getting ready, we dangerously parade around in the dark for a grand total of 15 minutes before my kids declare their exhaustion. Verdict: NOT WORTH IT.
8. Apples on Sticks – Eating an apple is difficult enough as it is, am I right? I’d love to meet the genius who thought, “Hey! Let’s make the difficult task of eating apples even MORE difficult by coating them with an impenetrable layer of sticky, gooey confection, impale it with a stick and sit back and watch a bunch idiots try to consume it!” I have noticed recently that these death snacks are more and more being phased out in favor of the sliced variety with a bowl of gooey, liquified sugar as sort of a dipping sauce. Maybe there is hope for the human race after all.
9. Petting Zoos – Every year, my anxiety disorder is tested beyond the normal limits as my children want to go to a random farm and pet (read “manhandle”) some poor, unsuspecting, flea-infested and disease-ridden barnyard animal. Not only are germs a factor, but do the animals even have a say in this? I often wonder if *this* will be the autumn that I witness my first barnyard “accident.” Either by a child or an animal. Trust me, folks. I have been to North Georgia, where “petting zoos” are nothing more than large fenced in areas where unsupervised children and farm animals alike run around screaming, like chickens with their heads…You get the picture.
10. Harvest Produce Picking – Maybe it’s because I have four kids. Maybe I’m just tired. But the older I get, the more appreciative of Publix, Trader Joe’s , and even WALMART I become. Look, I love locally grown stuff. But this is America. And we live in the 21st century. I THANK GOD for things like specialization and division of labor, where I don’t HAVE to do everything for myself and my family. This DIY-nonsense is out of control, people! As a homeschooler, I am already in charge of my kids’ education, for crying out loud. Should I really place upon myself the demands of procuring all the best and freshest possible seasonal fruits, veggies, meat, milk, eggs, dairy, etc. from all local sources, while also ensuring that they were harvested by equally employed and properly paid workers? Sweet Lord. Look, I am all about being socially conscious, but do you think all this pressure is maybe what’s contributing to our national epidemic of high blood pressure and skyrocketing stress levels? I already shop at 57 different stores to feed my family of six. How ’bout during one of those trips I pick up a bag of pesticide-ridden, nitrogen-gassed, available-year-round apples and 1 giant genetically modified pumpkin from my local warehouse on my toilet paper and laundry detergent run and call it a day? We discovered a few years ago that one of our favorite local farms actually TRUCKS IN EXTRA PUMPKINS and sets them out in the field to supply the growing demand for a pumpkin fresh from the patch. So there’s actually a good chance that your precious Great Pumpkin more than likely came from Sam’s club.
So there you have it. Again, although it may seem like I do, let me repeat: I DO NOT HATE FALL. And I know that I will probably receive some angry comments for picking on the Internet’s favorite season. I realize that I am seriously tipping over some sacred cows here. For the record, I love watching the colors of the leaves change. I love apple cider doughnuts. And despite my lack of love for all things football, Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. My husband suggested that my next post be about something that I actually like. That’s an interesting concept. And I will give that some more thought. Meanwhile, I will leave you with another thing that comes to mind when I think about Fall…two words: FLU SEASON!
HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!