Psychologists tell us that folks who break out the Christmas lights and decorations early, like before (maybe well before) Thanksgiving, tend to be happier than the rest of us who think we have to wait.
Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown says people like to associate with things that make them happy. Since many folks associate Christmas decorations with happy childhood memories of the holiday, putting up the decorations early evokes those emotions and memories and extends the excitement of the season for them.
Results of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that not only do Americans use holiday decorations on their homes to suggest that they are friendly, neighborly and accessible, but that those viewing photos of decorated homes perceive the residents as so. Happy folks.
So now we know what motivates some people to put up their Christmas decorations and put them up early. But what motivates us to take them down?
There’s practicality. If you decorate with a live tree and wreaths and greens, sagging branches and dropping needles alone can be enough to move you to pack the decorations away and haul what’s left of the greenery to the curb for recycling or out behind the barn for the first bonfire of the spring.
There’s life. The first Christmas we were married I decorated our apartment with a 4-ft. artificial tree purchased at the nearby pharmacy. We were both teaching full-time. The tree stayed up until Valentine’s Days. Romantic, you say? Well, not so much …
Then there’s the element of tradition – on both ends of the holiday. Tradition can determine when one puts Christmas decorations up as well as when one takes them down. For some families, the tree and decorations must come down before parents go back to work or kids go back to school. For others it must come down the day after Christmas or before New Year’s Day or on January 2 or after Twelfth Night or Epiphany.
Some folks leave their artificial pine tree up all year long and switch out its lights and trims to match an upcoming holiday or changing season. Pastels for spring and Easter; red, white and blue for summer; the changing hues of leaves for autumn.
What’s a Christmas lover to do with their decorations when the holiday season is “officially” over? Whatever makes them happy!