Mistletoe? Or mistle-foe?

You've felt it. You walk into a department store or supermarket, just after Halloween it seems, and you hear it. Mariah Carey. All she wants for Christmas is you. Christmas music lilts down from the store's speakers. The seasonal aisle is already red and green and gold.

And you seethe. Christmas is almost two months away—Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet, for crying out loud. As you come home, you see the neighbors already have Christmas lights up. Is this the steady march of yuletide consumerism eroding the very calendar, or something even more sinister?

Nah, it's lovely. At least, according to several psychologists, early anticipation of Christmas is a good way to feel happiness.

Some Expert Opinions

Steve McKeown is a psychoanalyst, founder of MindFixers, and owner of The McKeown Clinic, chimed in on the subject:

"Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.
In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.
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!"

Early Christmas anticipation can be interpreted as what psychologists refer to as savoring. The holiday season, for many, is a time of good feelings and warmth. Taking the time to fully experience and enjoy those good feelings is like savoring a particularly delicious meal, and a way to "stock up" on happiness.

As an added bonus, Christmas decorations can help your neighbors feel more welcome. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that decorations were like "cues as a way of communicating their accessibility to neighbors." Or in other words, decorated houses fostered a sense of community, warmth, and approachability.

A Time for Kindness and Empathy

Like any other time, the holiday season is a time to be sensitive and kind to what others are going through. These months mean a lot of different things to different people. Just as the season might remind one of happy Christmas memories as a kid, it could remind another of loved ones who aren't here anymore—or any number of sad or tough things. So as some put up decorations early, and others consider mistletoe their mistle-foe, we can make good new memories by showing compassion to all those around us. (Soapbox rant over)

What's your take on early Christmas? When seems like the appropriate time to put up decorations? Comment below!