Pumpkin spice and other out-of-season thoughts

Published 5:44 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

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I woke up one day this week thinking that spring was coming soon.

Then, of course, I shook off my half-asleep thoughts and quickly remembered that this is currently August, still definitely summer, and the upcoming spring is still a long way off. Does anyone else get so disoriented by our quick-paced lives that we forget sometimes what day, week, or even month it is?

The ongoing pandemic doesn’t help anything either. March 2020, for example, somehow felt simultaneously like it lasted only a few seconds and an entire decade. Even as routines slowly shift back to normal, it can still be hard to keep up. A friend and I’ve joked several times in the past 18 months that we should just toss our calendars out, since time doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. Every day from now on is just MonWedSatday, Maytember 32!

But maybe our society is always in a bit of a hurry to get ahead of ourselves. Just look at how early we like to start celebrating something.

Just this week, for example, I read that both Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have already started selling their most popular autumnal treat: pumpkin spice lattes. That’s right, pumpkin-flavored stuff is already here, even as the blazing heat of August is bearing down on us, even as actual pumpkins growing in people’s gardens aren’t even close to being ready to consumption or decoration. Both companies brought out the “PSLs” earlier than they did last year. And I’m willing to bet it’ll be even earlier next year.

Personally, I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice, in lattes or otherwise, but it’s become as ubiquitous with the arrival of Fall as colorful changing leaves and comfy sweaters.

But autumn isn’t the only thing some people are eager to see arrive early. We do the same thing with holidays. Pink and red Valentine’s decorations and candy pop up in stores in plenty of time before February. You’ll often see patriotic July 4th items on shelves in the weeks before we start lighting fireworks. I wouldn’t be surprised if spooky Halloween costumes and candy start mysteriously appearing any day now in local stores. (If we’re buying pumpkin spice lattes, then we’re also probably buying jack-o-lantern decorations now too, right?)

Even Black Friday shopping has started kicking off earlier and earlier each year so that people can get the best deals on Thanksgiving itself and skip out on the turkey-induced coma. For the record, I was dragged once to a late Thanksgiving Day shopping excursion, and I thoroughly disliked it, despite the nice discount sales.

Christmas, perhaps, is the most obvious example of all. The early Christmas gear often arrives well before Santa starts loading up his sleigh to deliver toys.

You’ll start hearing Christmas music on the radio well ahead of the actual holiday. Christmas parties are scheduled anytime during December. Television stations dust off their holiday specials and movies to fill airtime for weeks.

And does anyone else think it’s weird that Raleigh holds their Christmas parade in mid-November every year?? I know they’re not the only town that holds their parade super early, but it’s still weird to flip channels on TV and stumble across it when your body is still recovering from Halloween candy and you’re still making plans for where you’re going to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Making it to Christmas honestly feels like a marathon at times.

And we somehow do this every year, starting earlier and earlier.

I understand part of our eagerness. Holidays are great ways to take a break, meet up with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while, splurge on all your favorite foods, do some traveling, or whatever else that sounds fun. I personally am watching the clock tick closer to Labor Day so I can enjoy a break from all the usual labor, you know.

So, on one hand, I get it.

But on the other hand, how early is too early? We’re getting pumpkin spice lattes in August now. Will they be in July next year? In five years, will Starbucks be serving them in springtime?

Will we get to a point where we start celebrating holidays so early that we’ll be tired of them by the time the actual holiday arrives? (Are we perhaps already at that point for some of them?)

Like many things in life, maybe we just need balance. It’s already hard enough to keep up with the passage of time these days without the confusion of shifting annual celebrations and events to earlier dates. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever woken up in mid-August thinking that it’s about time for springtime flowers to start blooming.

I wonder if we should just “go with the flow” instead of wishing for time to pass by more quickly. Or maybe we should just get used to this kind of “new normal” along with everything else.

Only time will tell.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.