I have always been the type of person who is adamantly against decorating for Christmas or celebrating it in any form before the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I want to be stuffed with leftovers and pie before I even consider red and green or sing a jolly carol. In fact, my friends and family are most likely in shock just reading the title of this post. They may even think I’ve been kidnapped and this is my distress call. Rest assured, all is well. I absolutely love Christmas, but I have wanted it to remain in its allotted time, giving Thanksgiving and the Advent season their due. However, in the last year, I’ve loosened up, and although I probably won’t put up our Christmas tree any earlier, I’m not going to poo-poo on those who want to!
So what changed my mind? Well, first of all, we are grown-up adults and we should do what we want! (Within reason). If Mariah Carey and sugar cookies add a pep to your step, go for it! Especially given the last year or two where we’ve all endured a lot of challenges, extra joy and cheer should be welcomed with open arms. Plus, why is it any of my business in the first place? More power to those who are making their lists and checking them twice before Halloween.
Also, the joy on my children’s faces is worth it for me to grin and bear it. Their little eyes lit up when they saw the Christmas trees and blow up Santa Clauses at Lowes last weekend. They also sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reign Deer all year round: who am I to be a Grinch?
Most importantly, decorating early truly can have an effect on mental health and combating seasonal depression also known as seasonal affective disorder. I don’t in any way want to diminish depression or say it can be cured by festive lights and decor, but I do think our home environment plays a big role in how we feel emotionally. At a recent girl’s night out, we began discussing this issue and our conversation really got me thinking. One of my friends was sharing about how much the fall time change negatively impacts her mental health. We all agreed that seasonal depression can be very hard to combat. It can zap our energy and cause intense moodiness. The evenings have already been growing shorter and soon we will be ready to tuck into bed at 6 pm. Last year was the first year I really noticed feeling this way. I started to feel down in the evenings and almost panicky thinking about the darkness coming. To help with this, my husband hung twinkle lights in our living room. It was amazing how much these sparkly little lights impacted my mood. Instead of feeling down, I felt cozy. My friend shared that this is exactly why she enjoys decorating for Christmas early. The festive feel of her home in the long winter evenings, help buoy her. The joy of adding holiday throw pillows and snow globes to spruce up our living rooms really can positively change how the dark evenings affect us.
In Denmark, where winter weather is longer and more intense, people practice the concept of “hygge”: making your home cozy and comfortable so that you can enhance your contentment and over all well being. I want to dig into this concept a little bit more by reading two books that I heard about from one of my favorite podcasts. Wintering: the Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May and The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. Both of these books delve into practices of creating a cozy, warm, and nourishing home environment that can help bolster our mental health. Both offer simple insights into making space for our souls to thrive when life feels overwhelming, helping us make choices that fill us up when we’re nearing empty.
Additional ways to protect against seasonal depression are to spend extra time outdoors, exercise regularly, purchase a light box, make sure to get social time with friends, eat lots of vegetables, and talk to your Doctor about extra vitamin supplements or medicinal help as needed. Whatever it looks like, don’t shrug off seasonal depression as no big deal or feel like you have to just tough it out till spring: there is help!
So, mama, you do you! If it’s gingerbread and tinsel on October 29th, I’m happy for you. If it’s twinkle lights till Easter, great! Hot chocolate year-round? Yes, please! Enjoy the season and choose what will fill your home and heart with life and light.