Gen X then and now is a weekly series on Taffeta.com on Mondays. Read Gen X then and now: parental involvement in the schools.
Remember how we used to celebrate fall when we were kids? No? Me either? Don’t get me wrong, I am now a fall fanatic and can’t wait for the season every year, but when did it become a whole industry?
The first signs
Then: You would go to school and maybe there would be a few pictures of fall leaves on a tree. Your teacher might have had you do an activity at some point that involved collecting pretty colored leaves.
Now: It’s time to decorate! Bunches of fall colored leaves are everywhere: in every grocery store, in every home décor shop, online, you can’t get enough fall decorations. Whimsical leaves must be scattered tastefully throughout your home, how else would you know it was fall?
A cup o’ Joe
Then: You would go get a coffee on an autumn morning, like every other morning ,because coffee is amazing.
Now: PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES!!!!!! PSL, PSL, PSL. Heck, some people even refer to autumn simply as PSL season. There are several problems with this. I like pumpkin spice as much as the next person, but in baked goods… NOT coffee. Guys, PSL is gross, and certainly doesn’t need to be the emblem of the season.
The front door
Then: The front door was the front door. Nothing was on it until the Christmas wreath went up after Thanksgiving.
Now: Wreaths of leaves and tasteful gourds adorn the doors of houses all over your neighborhood. What? Yours isn’t up yet? Don’t wait, apparently this year there are shortages.
Then: We would usually go pick apples somewhere then go home and make stuff with the apples. At the orchard there were trees. That’s it. Also, to get decent apple cider you would generally have to go to the cider mill, where there were always amazing donuts as well.
Now: Apple cider, apple donuts, apple whatever-you-want are all available in abundance at every grocery store. But if you want an “authentic fall experience” you head out to an orchard where there will be 500 people and a bouncy house, and a corn maze, and face painting, and you may even end up buying a bag of apples forgetting that you could go out and pick them in the first place. These apples will cost you nine times as much as just going to the grocery, thanks to the authentic experience part.
Then: If you lived in a northern enough climate to get a full change of leaves, at some point your mom might pile you in the car to go look at the colors. You would stare out the window, enjoy the colors a little, but mostly bored and tired of listening to your mom’s music on the radio.
Now: You want to show your kids the beautiful views so you pile them into the car for a good ole’ fashioned drive through the country. You get to the scenic dive and are in a standstill of traffic. The kids ignore you in silence and although you sat in traffic on that beautiful route for three times longer than anticipated you are pretty sure they saw none of it because they were all on their phones with headphones on.
Then: Sometime about a week before Halloween, pumpkins would appear in the grocery store and you would carve one with a dull kitchen knife, happy if you could get a traditional triangle face out of it.
Now: Pumpkins appeared everywhere in early September. White pumpkins, green ones, knotted ones, you name it. Even the Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are out. Why? Won’t they rot before Halloween gets here? Your daughter answers that because she insists you buy some so she can start practicing stencil carving to try and win contests in October.