Column: ‘Tis the season before Thanksgiving

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Christmas Tree by Rodin Kutsaev on Unsplash

Everyone needs to let go of the idea that Christmas can only be celebrated once the Thanksgiving dishes have been cleared off the table. It should be enjoyed longer than 30 days, but not just because it’s one of the best holidays — celebrating Christmas early in November can make you happier.

I love celebrating Christmas In November because I get these little special moments of joy within all the stress and chaos of college life that builds up in November. I get to enjoy sitting in the living room with my beautiful, decorated tree and my Christmas fireplace video crackling on the TV. Decorating early also helps me combat my seasonal depression, which seems to manifest after Daylight Savings Time ends.

I also believe celebrating early enhances Thanksgiving because everyone is filled with the Christmas spirit of giving, which helps them have even more gratitude on Thanksgiving. I feel a lot more love for everyone in my life. My birthday is always the week of Thanksgiving and I love to already have my decorations up so I’m filled with the magic of three holidays at once.

And when it comes to celebrating Christmas early, there is actually real science behind why it makes people happier.

According to psychologist Deborah Serani, who was quoted in an article by “Today,” Christmas decorating can lift your mood.

“It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness,” Serani explained in the article. “I think anything that takes us out of our normal habituation, the normal day in, day out … signals our senses, and then our senses measure if it’s pleasing or not. Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”

Christmas breaks people out of the mundane routine of their lives and into a new frame of mind. That pure sense of joy comes back into people’s lives. In the same article, Serani explained that the bright, colorful lights and colors of Christmas are a form of chromotherapy. Chromotherapy, or color therapy, can boost happiness and energy levels.

Another reason celebrating Christmas now is good for some people is the deep sense of nostalgia it brings.

According to psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, who explained to Unilad and was quoted in Business Insider,” “Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, it’s most commonly for nostalgic reasons, either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.”

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement.”

For those who associate happiness with their childhood Christmases, they can boost their dopamine systems by putting up those festive decorations early. They can remember and be filled with that pre-Christmas-day excitement they felt as children.

One of favorite childhood memories is waking up Christmas morning to see presents in the living room, opening presents and then baking orange rolls with my family. When I put up my decorations, even though I’m in college, I am brought back to that simple Christmas morning filled with baking and presents. It instantly fills me with more joy. I want to feel that as long as I can, so I want to decorate before Thanksgiving.

Not only does celebrating Christmas early improve your mood and make you nostalgic, it also benefits everyone as it jump-starts the feeling of altruism.

The spirit of Christmas increases joy, which increases the number of people helping and serving others out of pure selflessness. Under the hustle and bustle of the festive season, there is a feeling of calm and a desire to make others feel just as merry as the lights on Christmas trees. People give more without the expectation of something in return.

According to Psychology Today, Christmas is seen as the biggest time for helping others. People take the time to help others, make connections, improve themselves, and embody peace.

So, put up the Christmas tree and string up the lights. Make your November full of Christmas joy and peace before the craziness of Christmas in December. As my aunt Audrey Wolfensberger explained, November is the time for “Christmas calm,” a time where everyone can enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving combined with the peace and love present in the Christmas season. You can enjoy the stillness before the “Christmas crazy” of buying presents, going to parties and attending festive events in December.

Remember, celebrating Christmas only enhances and embraces Thanksgiving; it doesn’t overlook it. It only makes Thanksgiving feel even more special, as you are already filled with the altruistic Christmas spirit.

Merry early Christmas, everyone!