WARNING: This blog is loaded with sarcasm and is meant to be read with a light heart and a lit unscented candle near your person. However, the comedy will highlight deep truths about this blight of blights upon this change of seasons. If you are a “fan” of the flavor or smell or embroidering about pumpkin spice, it may be wise to skip this blogpost. Read at your own risk.
With all that afflicts us in this Year of our Lord 2020, I forgot to brace myself for the most seasonal of contagions that infects everything in the Fall: pumpkin spice. As if the lockdown non-lockdown, mask wearing, Mass restrictions, rioting, deaths, and political divisions weren’t enough, every major corporation decides to add the “cherry on top” of this cultural pie: pumpkin spice. Two culprits began this most wretched of “traditions” for our contemporary experience of Autumn. In 1995, a candle company churned out this molten fungus only to be outdone soon after by the coffee corporation on every street corner: Starbucks. This systematized, made to order faux-individualistic product called the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” soon, like gangrene, seeped through the cultural veins of Autumn. In a secularized world – devoid of the mystery of Christ – the market replaces the sobriety of the mystery of death, imbedded in the mystery of Autumn, with the flash and sizzle of a flavor we all pretend brings us joy. And, like every secular disease, the fall of every first domino brings only further dominos of infections; pumpkin spice seems to have taught COVID-19 how to spread…
Pumpkin spice did not end with that first candle. And, it did not end after patient zero sipped that first Starbucks blend only to put on a fake smile to convince herself or himself that it was “cool” to like it; because, otherwise that person would have had to face the reality that he/she just spent half their work day wage on a medium sized coffee that tastes like chalk infused with orange syrup. No. It is now burnt into framed shiplap knickknacks “I ‘heart’ Pumpkin Spice.” Like monsters they embroider that monicker on our innocent children’s bibs; in fact, they must begin to brainwash the young into believing pumpkin spice is Fall, otherwise they wouldn’t sell anymore candles or coffees in Fall. But, clothing and wall hangings aren’t enough, the smell pursues you when leaving the restroom with air fresheners spewing the rancid scent. There are soap bars, body washes, shampoos and conditioners lined up with a pumpkin on the label and a few dried maple leaves all emitting the lie that pumpkin spice helps your skin or scalp. NEWS FLASH: it. does. not! BUT, IT DOESN’T END THERE!
They put pumpkin spice in yogurt! They ruin our sacred morning by putting pumpkin spice flavor in cereal! Pumpkin spice – I’m sure of it – is now in steak, somewhere, somehow. It has become your best friend’s acquaintance that never gets the hint that they aren’t invited to the party just because they know your best friend. Pumpkin spice tries to convince us of its importance by declaring quite boldly that Fall is only hear when pumpkin spice arrives. But, think about this: Autumn is here when you walk outside and it feels like Autumn! Leaves are changing! We are nearing October! We have football back! We aren’t dumb, people! IT IS FALL! WE DON’T NEED THIS SPICE TO SET THE CALENDAR FOR FALL!
Now, as a culture, we are so deep into the trench of this pumpkin spice brainwashing – like test subjects in some CIA, MK-ULTRA experiment – that we tell ourselves we need pumpkin spice, we tell ourselves that we love pumpkin spice. After all, how could we not loooooooooove, pumpkin spice? We are forced to say pumpkin spice is good, the way the media forced us to love the sitcom Friends. Friends never made sense. We never really liked the characters (except the one who played guitar in that coffee shop and sang about her cat). And, we didn’t really appreciate the contrived drama. BUT, if we even spoke those thoughts aloud, we would be excommunicated from the lunch table and disowned by friends and family members alike. So, what did we do: we “boldly” folded to the collective pressure. With eyes glazed over, we turned to one another and said, “I love big brother.”
Well, enough is enough. I can take no more. This is the Jesus cleansing the Temple moment. It is time for everyone to stand up and with one voice declare: pumpkin spice isn’t that great!! Pause and say that aloud, now, when alone, as you read this. Feel the shackles fall to the ground! There is freedom in this declaration. The freedom Christ’s truth alone can bring (John 8:31-32). This is the freedom of the children of God. We do not need to live in the cultural prison of this Autumnal overlord. We do not need to be pursued by this plague of smells when shopping, when sitting down to watch our shows, or when working at the office. This pandemic of spice – PUMPKIN-19 – is over when we say it is. Say it. Declare it. Live it! Pumpkin spice, your day is done. Let the people of the world unite! Say it loudly: PUMPKIN SPICE, I’M DONE WITH YOU!
May God bless you,
Fr. Jacob Bearer