THE SONIC BOOMER
Thursday is the first day of fall, and that means the beginning of my mental unraveling, a condition that persists until New Year’s Day. It’s the happiest time of the year.
Fall means a whiff of a breeze in the air and the sound of football in the background.
It means Halloween, which, primarily because of its long shopping season, has become a major holiday. When I was young, kids maybe had a party at school and went trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods. Today, everyone gets into the act. School parties have become trunk-or-treats with heavy parental involvement. Kids seldom trick-or-treat by knocking on the doors of strangers, and home parties have become “Can You Top This?” affairs which sometimes don’t even involve children. Decorating the home, yard and dog has exploded to the point where the Home Depot and Lowe’s have devoted whole aisles to gigantic inflatables. Costumes have gone from witches and devils (whose looks are fairly open to interpretation) to studio-licensed superheroes and movie characters (with every detail correct). You’d think that the holiday was less about creativity now, but creative people will always be creative, and they’ve merely stepped up their game. Haunted houses are now big business, and the creativity there is off the charts.
Fall also means Thanksgiving. I’m not a big cook, but I am a big eater. So I usually bring the desserts — pumpkin pie, cherry pie, apple pie, chocolate pudding pie and my world-famous cheesecake. Turkey and the fixings will be left to people who know what they’re doing. This year, the trend back to wholesome, organic, farm-fresh ingredients will probably take its toll on any recipe that starts with a pound of melted butter and ends in granulated sugar, but I’m OK with that. There’s so much food at Thanksgiving that, by the time the dishes are cleared, everyone is ready to burst even if they did tiptoe around the buffet with a wary eye, looking for familiarity.
The day after Thanksgiving is the best day to shop, even if you unofficially begin your holiday shopping the day after school starts, like I do. Because I own an antiques shop, I spend all year shopping, but fall is different. Instead of sorting through the detritus of the deceased for offbeat salvage worthy of passing along to the next generation, I get to go to real stores to buy brand-new merchandise for people I actually know and love. This means going to the mall, a fabulous place where soft music plays and everything smells good. Soap, candles, even the starch in new clothes is purchase-conducing. Best of all, when you’re beat, you get to choose a restaurant or peruse the many snacks available in the food court — also a place of wonderful smells. I usually wind up the day at a bookstore, however, because they truly have something for everyone. The smell there — of paper and ink, my two favorite things — makes me happier than any mood-enhancing drug ever could.
So, come on, fall! Come on, holidays! I have, once again, survived the rest of the year by keeping you in mind.