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Tom's Column - December 23/January 24

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Premature Christmases by Tom Beasley

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I can't get enough of it. Buddy the Elf has nothing on me. But I'm also exceptionally hardline about when that time of year starts. From the 1st December onwards, it's all Christmas all the time. My house – I'm a millennial, so that means a one-bedroom flat with a recurring black mould issue – is covered in a shimmering abundance of tinsel and is soundtracked day and night by a constant rotation of Mariah Carey, Wham and The Pogues.

But that 1st December cut-off point has always been very important to me. Any display of overt Christmassy-ness before then is a bit much. The reason the most wonderful time of the year is so wonderful is because it's so limited. Contrary to that Wizzard song I have on hard rotation throughout December, there's absolutely no fun in having Christmas every day.

You can't dust off that Love Actually DVD in November and we definitely shouldn't wake Michael Bublé from his cryogenic resting place before the first advent calendar chocolate has left its wrapping. The excruciating heteronormativity of his spin on 'Santa Baby' is barely tolerable in December, let alone before it. Santa Buddy? Come on, now. Can you even buy a decoration from Mercedes? Has a line in a song ever tried harder than “all the hotties that I never kissed”? These are all questions I ask every year.

But back to the crux of this, I've always been infuriatingly pernickety about when the Christmas period starts. If a weekend falls just before 1st December, that doesn't mean we can put the tree up early, even if it means waiting another entire week. No matter how much Spotify flings festive music mixes at me, I won't wilt and hit play.

But then we got the Christmas of 2020. That was obviously an incredibly difficult time for all of us and, by the time the first vestiges of Christmas spirit were in the air, we hadn't really been outside for more than six months. So when my wife suggested we get the decorations out in early-to-mid November, my stranglehold on Yuletide law and order softened like a perfectly cooked sprout. Within hours, the fairy lights were blinking and the sounds of Shakin' Stevens were filling the room.

I've returned to my pre-pandemic ways in the years since then – can you believe it has been more than 1,300 days since the first lockdown was announced? – but I no longer look with Grinch-like judgement on those who pull the trigger early. When I see an iridescent snowman on a front lawn in late October next to a neighbour's spooky pumpkins, I'm no longer filled with a Scrooge-like fury at the merriment of others. Even though the worst days of the pandemic are behind most of us, the news cycle is still about as miserable as it gets.

In an era in which the cost of living has never been higher and mortgage rates are scarier than the new Exorcist movie, I can forgive people for wanting the small joys in life and wanting them sooner than the calendar suggests. There's nothing wrong with heading off up into the loft and getting the wreaths and the baubles out a few weeks early. Anything to make the cold winter nights more bearable.

And if all this means I occasionally hear 'Jingle Bell Rock' a few weeks earlier than planned, I can take that. I might even sing along.

© 2023 Tom Beasley

Tom Beasley is a staff writer for the film/TV website, The Digital Fix, living just outside London and originally from Coventry. He can be reached at tomjbeasley@gmail.com.