People complain that Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year. But you don’t have to start celebrating if you never stop, argues Sam Brooks.
When I was a kid, before dial-up internet and phones with cameras, it was firmly established that December was the month of Christmas. Stores would be decked out in their most garish red, urging me (or my aggrieved mother) to get ready for the 25th. Even as a child with very little understanding of time, though, I knew Christmas took place on just one day: the 25th. The month was prep for that day.
At some point, long after I became an adult, the allocated time for Christmas merriment crept earlier in the year, until it was taking place on November 1. This is so ingrained now that Mariah Carey releases a yearly video indicating that Halloween is over, and the festive season has now begun. Smith and Caughey’s erects its iconic window display in the first weeks of November. Christmas sales creep onto social algorithms and shopping catalogues two full moon cycles ahead of the actual day.
This creates a sense of anger in some people. They view Christmas as something akin to a bull in the calendar’s china shop, breaking out of its designated month and laying waste to an otherwise blissful November. The gentle jingle of bells registers instead as an assault on the senses. They see red, literally and figuratively.
My suggestion for them, and the world at large? Don’t stop celebrating Christmas at all.
Celebrate it all year around. To misquote Emperor Palpatine, “Let the spirit of Christmas flow through you!” A hangover only comes if you stop drinking.
Let’s be honest, you’re thinking about Christmas before November 1 anyway. If you happen to have a family spread out across the motu, let alone the world, you’re already negotiating who is going to be where, booking flights and accommodation, and in general emotionally preparing for what may be a super stressful and not at all restorative time of year. It makes every sense for me to balance out that stress with a little Christmas-associated treat. Drink some eggnog, eat a little chocolate. Pull a cracker with a loved one. Listen to ‘Fairytale of New York’. All things in moderation, all year round, including Christmas.
For those who reject this entirely, think of it as a kind of vaccine, inoculating you against end-of-year madness. Surely it’s easier to hear ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ once every month than to hear it 12 times in the space of a few weeks? It’s like cleaning your house: if you do a little bit of celebrating on a regular basis, November and December would be way less stressful.
It’d be hard for the first year, maybe the first two. Christmas songs in March would take some getting used to. But eventually we’d get used to it all, even the rampant commercialisation. Christmas shelves would be reduced to just a corner of the store, for fanatics who are always looking for the best decoration to adorn their tree. Your favourite musician wouldn’t release a Christmas album just for that end-of-year boost. Better yet, people who are a bit… intense… about Christmas won’t find their friends and families giving them a wide berth around the same time each year for “no reason”. It’s win-win-win.
If you’ll allow me to be earnest and heartfelt for a second, I think what I really want is the Christmas spirit, year-round. For people to carry the love for those around them; to show generosity towards those shouldering more than their burden (especially people who have to work customer service this season). To carry the joy that radiates from the high notes in ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. To carry the care and consideration that goes into making sure the 25th happens at all, and the grace of deciding that, truly, nothing will ruin Christmas.
Even if it’s only March!