When I was a kid, Christmastime felt as though it lasted an eternity. But these days, the season seems to feel shorter and more rushed every year. Sometimes (this year, for example) Christmas Day falls less than four weeks after Thanksgiving. For a lot of people, Black Friday is the day to decorate. But between Turkey Day preparations and the cleanup, the last thing I feel like doing the day after Thanksgiving is hauling all of my holiday decorations out of the garage and setting them up.
Last year, on November 1, as I was rummaging through the discounted Halloween candy in my local big box store, I glanced up to see the most beautiful display of artificial Christmas trees. I immediately gravitated to the snow-flocked trees that had been trending on Instagram. I could already picture one in my living room wrapped in twinkling lights. “Who says I have to wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas?” I thought, brushing off the fact that it was 89 degrees here in Central Florida. On a whim, I dropped the 25 cent bag of candy corn and picked out a 6.5 foot flocked pine, a galvanized tree collar, and a handful of ornaments. It was all in the back of my car before I could talk myself out of the purchase.
Back at home, my husband and kids were enthusiastically on board with my "early" decorating and even loved the idea of an artificial tree (no needles to clean up! no watering!). Within hours, I had the beginnings of a winter wonderland inside my home. I started sharing photos of my tree on social media and naturally, I got a couple of messages admonishing me for “skipping the time of gratitude that is Thanksgiving” or “falling prey to corporate retail tactics.” (Insert eyeroll emoji here.) Quick note to holiday Scrooges: It is still possible to celebrate Thanksgiving with a Christmas tree in your living room.
By putting my tree up early, I will have almost two months to enjoy the holidays, and when New Year’s Day rolls around, I’ll be ready to take down the decorations without feeling the after-Christmas blues.
It seems as though I am not alone in my sentiments. In 2017, psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, owner of The McKeown Clinic and founder of MindFixers, told Unilad that people who decorate for Christmas early most commonly do it “for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.” Therefore, putting your holiday decorations up before Thanksgiving, may ultimately lead you to becoming a happier person. McKeown explains, “In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood. Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”
Another reason I love having my tree up in early November is to combat the seasonal sadness that comes with the end of Daylight Savings Time. As soon as the clocks roll back and the sun begins to set at the 5:00 p.m. hour, I find that everyone in my household becomes a little crankier, moodier, or just generally bummed out. A 2017 study published in the medical journal Epidemiology found that the end of Daylight Savings Time is associated with an 11% increase in depressive episodes. It hurts less to get home from work after sunset when the house is lit up by twinkle lights. Relaxing in the glow of our Christmas tree pulls my family’s focus toward the happiness of the holidays and helps us to forget that our days are much shorter.
Unfortunately, there will still be people from etiquette authority, Miss Manners, to great aunt Edna who will be aghast to see the tree up before the turkey. To them, I say, “Don’t come to my house for Thanksgiving if you can’t handle a little early Christmas cheer.”
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