Part of the delight of preparing for Christmas is the wonderful autumn season that precedes Christmastide. It is a blessing to know that the intense heat of summer will fade into the pleasant temperatures of autumn, and then one day a frost will tip the grass and leaves with silver-white in preparation for winter.
We call autumn our "social season." It starts before the simmering summer is over, during Labor Day weekend, when we partake of fannish fun at DragonCon. For four days we wander about a fantasy world filled with wizards, space pilots, pirates, alternative history "steampunk" characters, superheroes, actors, writers, artists, and more. The following weekend, usually warm, kicks off "fall": the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain Park. This huge craft festival carries everything from cutesy kids' clothing to lawn furniture, foods to musical instruments, decorations made of everything from clay and glass to metal and wood, plus has performances and booths of dozens of kinds of food. We arrive at the opening hour and by the time it gets hideously hot, we are ready to leave, but usually have a grilled corn on the cob before we depart.
In October comes another craft festival, a recent discovery, the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, GA, part of Georgia's apple country. While there are occasionally Yellow Daisy repeats, most of the vendors are completely different, and we come home with a peck of freshly-picked Granny Smith apples, delightfully tart to make your mouth pucker.
It is in the lovely weather in October and November in which we usually take our vacation. While temps may crawl into the unwelcome 70s during the height of the day, the evenings are cool and crisp, the perfect time for explorations outdoors.
It's also the time of year when we start up having game nights again. End of fiscal year is over with and we can relax. The house is swathed in fall decorations and looks inviting instead of burned out, ready to welcome friends. The "Mistletoe Mart" is held at the Cobb County Civic Center (too early, if you ask me) in October as well.
In November comes our wedding anniversary, and then one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. I know folks who start decorating their homes for Christmas before Thanksgiving, simply because of the number of decorations they put up, but I simply can't do it. I love the idea of Thanksgivingnot all the "Pilgrims and Indians" tales, but the idea of sharing food and conversation with friends, the savory food and drink, the scents of cinnamon and apples and warm spice in the background. If it's cool enough, we might even have a fire in the fireplace.
But once Thanksgiving weekend is over, it's Christmas decorating in earnest! Plus there are more delights to come: the Apple Annie Craft Show at St. Ann's Church, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company Christmas performance, and other holiday fun before Christmas even arrives, twelve days of visiting, a New Year's Eve party, and, to close out the season, our Twelfth Night party.