It’s that time of year again. Yes, the time of year when you turn on the seat warmers but by the time your seat heats up five minutes down the road you’ve forgotten you turned them on and when you start feeling a warmth rise beneath you, you panic for a brief second because you think you might have pissed your pants. Rest easy. It’s going to be okay. Or is it? Just walk into any grocery store and you’ll soon realize that NO! It’s not okay.
I don’t know about where you live, but where *I* live my grocery store has a vile holiday custom. A tradition that is an assault on your olfactory system. That’s right. I’m talking about cinnamon pine cones. The time has come to speak out. Too many Thanksgivings and Christmases have gone by while I remained silent. The raping of my nose with this noxious perfume has got to stop.
I get it. Cinnamon says fall. It says comfort. It says fall is comfortable. It reassures everybody that summer is done and it’s time to put away the bathing suits and don a heavy sweater or fleece jacket and hide all the body flaws that have been on display throughout June, July and August. I love cinnamon. I eat it in my oatmeal every morning. It’s like the Italian grandmother who says, “Mangia, principessa. You are too skinny.” Cinnamon is awesome. And has restorative powers.
But why the hell they have to douse pine cones with it and make a pyramid of headache inducing bags of it in the lobby of my grocery store is beyond me. One morning after dropping my son off at elementary school I innocently stopped by the store on my way home only to have my nose violated as soon as I stepped through the doors. What did I do to deserve such punishment? I swear, alongside playing Brittany Spears, filling an interrogation room with cinnamon pine cones is sure to bring even the most devout jihadist to his knees and beg for mercy.
The doors of the store slid open and sure enough the scent of cinnamon didn’t just “waft” enticingly through the air like when you pass a Cinnabon in a mall. No. Cinnamon freaking slapped in you the face like a jealous girlfriend after your phone battery died and she hasn’t been able to contact you in 3 hours. All of a sudden you’re looking around nervously hoping you don’t see anybody you know because your eyes are watering and you’re about to vomit like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model the night before a cover shoot.
Why??! Now, don’t misunderstand me. Cinnamon pine cones aren’t the problem per se. They are lovely and add a nice homey touch to a fireplace at the right time of year. What I have a problem with is QUANTITY. There is no reason to have 1,248 bags of pine cones and 20 of the pine cone’s statuesque cousin- the cinnamon broom all in the same place. I don’t mind the broom nearly as much as the pine cones because they are a tradition for a lot of people and they could potentially serve a purpose in case Uncle Billy has an unfortunate holiday relapse and breaks a whiskey bottle on your kitchen floor. Pine cones… well, they’re just… pine cones. Pine cones should remain outside for the enjoyment of squirrels. And never should they be doused in cinnamon cologne which would surely burn the squirrels nostrils and cause them severe damage from which they would never recover and likely die since they would no longer be able to sniff out the nuts they’ve stored over the winter after an encounter with such a thing. It’s an environmental issue, really.
But the thing I think about when I walk into my grocery store and get a whiff of that “festive” display is the workers in the factory where these God awful things are produced. I used to work in Kirklands, a home decor store, once upon a time. Part of my duties was to unpack the boxes of goods that were delivered. Unfortunately we sold bags of potpourri. One bag of potpourri is pretty. A box of 500 bags is highly toxic and upon opening, the stench immediately clings to your very pores and every fiber of your clothing and no amount of scrubbing or bleaching can remove the smell until it’s good and ready to depart. That’s not the worst thing in the world when the scent is freesia. I can’t imagine the men who work in the cinnamon pine cone factory are getting laid anytime soon. Nobody comes home from a shift on the line at the Holiday Traditions company and is greeted by an eager spouse ready for a cinnamon stick. No. Those workers are sleeping alone. And most likely in an outhouse.
If the cinnamon pine cone is something you purchase and have in your home, I say kudos to you! I’m sure the ambiance you’re providing for your family is special and they enjoy your effort to create a place of warmth and comfort in their home. Just maybe keep it to one or two bags lest you begin a new and unwanted custom in your household. That being aroma induced migraines. It’s a real thing. I promise you. I get it every time I walk into my grocery store from October-December. Happy Holidays!