I put my Christmas decorations up last weekend.
“Fuck it”, I thought, “I need some Christmas sparkle in my life and I need it NOW!”
In the middle of our second Lockdown in the UK, things seem a bit grim at the moment. As well as having to stay at home and stay away from the people we love AGAIN, it’s also now that miserable, grey time of year that just makes you crave a bit of warmth and joy. For me, Christmas decorations deliver that in abundance.
Saturday morning, filled with more motivation than I’ve had in ages, I got ready to spend a blissful day detangling Christmas lights, hanging baubles and watching Christmas movies on Netflix. Needless to say, I was planning on there being a glass of wine or two involved as well. I got the BF up in the loft to get the tree and the decorations down whilst I jumped in the shower (he’s always the early riser in our house).
I immerged from the bathroom, dressed, excited and ready to get cracking….only to be confronted by about ten boxes of decorations, the giant box containing our fake tree and no BF in sight. I then remembered that Christmas decorating isn’t really his ‘thing’ (I somehow seem to forget this every year and instead conjure up Hallmark images in my mind of the two of us wearing Christmas jumpers and laughing merrily whilst we decorate the tree in perfect harmony – fat chance).
Undeterred, I carted the whole lot downstairs and set to work. Learning from previous years, I rejected my usual ‘scattergun’ approach of opening every box and piling it all up around the lounge and instead went to work on the tree first. It took me about an hour to get it up and get all of the branches separated and spread in place, by which time I’d got a bit of a sweat on and my back was killing me (note to self; really must do some exercise this lockdown)! Nevertheless I felt that I had accomplished something all by myself. I was the Christmas Wonder Woman.
Next up were the lights. This stage always requires the help of the BF as I ‘just don’t get them right’. I got my mac on and trooped out to the garage in the pouring rain (this is where the BF had retreated to earlier). He was in the middle of assembling his new racking for the garage and was working up a sweat of his own. I coerced him back in the house and together we got two strings of lights on the tree (with only the minimal amount of sniping at each other this year – result).
Lights on, the BF retreated back to the garage and his own Saturday project and I was left to make things Christmas pretty. It was high time for a glass of wine and a bit of festive cheer (it was only lunchtime but everyone knows that there are no rules to these things at Christmas). I got Netflix on and picked a random, cheesy, Christmas movie and set to work hanging baubles, unpacking and placing Christmas candles and finding spare surfaces for stuffed toy reindeers and the Christmas gonks.
Three hours, two Christmas movies and a couple of glasses of wine later (it’s all about moderation), the house was cosy, festive, and warm. The tree was full of green, gold and red baubles, as well as some random decorations we’ve picked up during previous years. I had little Christmas ornaments dotted around the lounge. I had festive, smelly candles lit and a warm glow of accomplishment. I also felt less stressed than I have done for months, all my work anxiety had drained away and I was completely relaxed. Christmas had come early and done me the world of good.
When I first got the idea to make Christmas come early to our house, the BF reckoned I was mad and that lockdown and 2020 had finally got the better of me. I pointed out that we may as well have a month at home enjoying all of the Christmas decorations for a change. We’re normally out and about so much that it seems like as soon as I put everything up, I’m taking it all down again! He’s coming around to the idea now that I’ve done it and seems a lot more relaxed in the evenings as well.
Intrigued by the calming affect that early Christmas decorating has had on our household, I took to Google to see if anyone else had followed suit and made Christmas come early this year. I was gratified to discover that apparently I’m not the only one who needed a bit of early festive cheer. Celebrities across the country seem to be filling their Instagram’s up with pictures of themselves getting their Christmas going early. A bit of whatsapp investigating also helped me discover that some of my friends were also following suit. I asked them if it had the same calming affect on them as it had done in our household and the answer was an overwhelming ‘yes’!
I decided to delve a bit deeper and see what some of the news and magazine sites were reporting on putting Christmas decorations up early and was pleased to see that they were all promoting it pretty positively and with comments from psychological experts as well! A recent article in Good Housekeeping quoted Heather Garbutt, psychotherapist and director of The Counselling & Psychotherapy Centre as saying, “I think everything that you can do to make your home cosier and more celebratory this winter can only help your mental state”.
Heather went on to comment that, “Whichever Christmas decorations you like – whether it’s fairy lights, table decorations, trees or candles – can form a buffer against a world that is pretty tough at the moment,” she continues. “Doing your favourite Christmas things earlier will remind you of the simple joys and pleasures of being human.” I wholeheartedly agree!
Dr Elena Touroni, consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, agrees, telling Yahoo! that undertaking Christmas activities early can provide a temporary break from the reality of Lockdown and what’s happening in the world right now.
“This year’s been hard on all of us, and news of another lockdown, with further disappointments and cancelled plans, is likely to have brought up all kinds of difficult thoughts and feelings,” she explains. “Planning enjoyable events and activities is a psychological strategy that can help build our capacity to cope with daily life. So in this sense, it makes sense that people might be doing these things a little earlier this year.”
It seems that everywhere I look, everyone agrees that getting ready for Christmas early really is good for you! I have to say, for me, it’s provided a giant emotional uplift. The act of decorating itself made me feel like I was accomplishing something and enjoying the lights and decorations makes me feel relaxed, happy and a lot less stressed that I have been previously.
Christmas really does make you happy. I can highly recommend putting your decorations up early and getting in on the festive cheer. I may do this every year from now on! It’s certainly filled our cold, grey days with a warm and happy glow. If you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps right now, why not try it? It’s never too early to feel good.