There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to start belting out Christmas carols. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love putting up tacky blow- up ghosts and trying to figure out that never- ending spider web stuff as much as anyone. I can’t wait for candy corn and plastic vampire teeth to find themselves in discount bins in the front of stores. But there’s just something about the leaves falling to the ground that screams how near winter is. I blame this on the commercial society. Halloween is celebrated by stores starting in August, and near the end of October, things immediately switch to Christmas. I can’t be expected to just ignore an upcoming holiday when there are so many things screaming out trying to get me to start celebrating! Poor Thanksgiving goes unnoticed continually… one can imagine some lonely box of stuffed turkeys or autumnal ceramics shoved in a corner, crying softly to themselves as they are forgotten for another year. But Christmastime! It isn’t the holiday itself that holds me; it’s the time of year. It’s the inordinate excitement over an early snow of half an inch, leading people to stock up on canned soup and bottled water and talk about how “This one’s gonna be a doozy.” It’s the horrible sweaters with jingle bells hanging off. It’s the excuse to microwave my socks to make them extra toasty. It’s the best excuse for making (and eating) way too many cookies. My over-excitement about the season has pushed me into trying to behave as if it’s already time for Christmas cheer. I find myself sweating bullets on the way to class because it is 70 degrees and I’m wearing the equivalent of a suit of armor. You know, in case it decides to blizzard in mid- October. I’m using the coming winter as an excuse to eat more, likening myself to a bear fattening itself up to sleep for months. Gotta be prepared, right? It won’t be long now until I show up, huffing and puffing in a parka, pulling along a tree I cut down from the back yard because Christmas trees are never sold early enough for my liking. So far, I’m attempting to stave off this mania by cramming my brain full of so many fall- related things that there isn’t room for anything else. I eat pumpkin pie at least once a week, generally with a side serving of cocoa or cider. It takes me hours to walk anywhere now, because I have to stop so many times along the way and take blurry close- up cell phone pictures of leaves. I spent one crazed weekend making apple pie after apple pie with fruit I picked at Carter’s Mountain. But one thing can’t be subdued: the carols. I really, really can’t help this one. Again, it’s not even the holiday that the carols are associated with. It is just a simple fact that songs shouldn’t be so catchy and wonderfully snuggly- sounding if you’re only expected to sing them for one month of the year. So, really, my terrible howling of them is really just a form of social protest (aha, I have changed myself from “that” person to an activist!). And though a few of my friends put up with me, smiling horribly through pained expressions as I attempt to lead everyone in another round of “When We Went a- Wassailing,” many don’t. These are the people that turn away and make faces that say, “I have no idea who she is,” to sympathetic passerby. Honestly, though, I see nothing wrong with being a little enthusiastic sometimes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a pan of fudge and maybe download “Greatest Hits of the Holidays.” For some reason, the house is strangely empty this morning… no one is around to join in on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” with me!