Back in school, there was a nearly two-month stretch between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and spring break that seemed to last for a semester. There was something about wintertime outside and no chance of a break from class any time soon that made parts of January and March and all of February the most boring time of year.

Between canceled festivals; limited attendance at church services and events that do happen; city- and countywide curfews some places; and mask mandates, this year has seemingly lasted a lifetime – and that’s just speaking about the pandemic end of this year.

On a more promising note for fans of fall and the holidays, here’s a reminder that the passing of Labor Day is a gateway to the greatest time of the year.

As high school football is doing its best dodging cancellations due to severe weather and positive COVID-19 cases, SEC football is on cue to start soon.

Last Monday, the Monroe Journal got last-minute notice of Smithville football players testing positive for the virus, pushing the start of the Noles’ season back for another week. Even though the same delay could happen for any team or any event, there are some things about the last stretch of months that 2020 cannot take away from us.

The weather forecast has promised some cooler temperatures and if the autumn breezes aren’t a mood changer, I don’t know what is. Couple a cool down with the sights of pumpkins, smells of burning leaf piles, shorter days and tastes of hot chocolate, and the next several weeks should be the stress reliever we all deserve.

Early in the pandemic, we leaned on lots of good deeds and creative ideas to help us cope with what seemed unimaginable then. There were Christmas decorations put up in April, goodwill towards strangers and a strong showing for frontline and essential workers helping us maintain our normalcy.

As with anything we get used to, we tend to lose track of that sense of gratitude.

We can appreciate the first few times of the year wearing our favorite long sleeves but by January we’re dwelling on how we can’t wait for spring to arrive. You love listening to Sunny 93 in early December but are kind of ready to hear your radio hits towards the end of the month.

With corn mazes and Christmas shopping coming before we know it, it’s something we all need. Don’t let all of the fourth quarter’s magical moments slip by you. No matter what the unknowns of the future hold, fall and Christmas are coming.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at

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