It’ll take more than a few festive lights to clear the Covid tier 3 gloom though they do help. For the first time ever my Christmas decorations are up and it’s not even December.
After the initial but predictable disappointment of the first set of lights I tried not working, followed by a quick dash to buy replacements, I gradually got in the swing of this annual ritual.
It all felt reassuringly therapeutic with Mrs Jones doing the more artistic tree decorating while I got on with the manly stuff involving being outside, standing on a step ladder and plugging things in!
With the outdoor work completed, including the awesome blue and white flashing icicles which now adorn the front of my house, it was time to head indoors for a glass of mulled wine while Alexa played Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You.
Over the years I’ve slowly built up our arsenal of Christmas lights – two sets for the front, two in the back garden and all manner of lights from rope to curtain in every downstairs room.
I like to think that my illuminations are tasteful – definitely no inflatables and no projections – but who knows, or cares, what the neighbours think.
These lights will be up now for over a month and slowly the nightly routine of switching off dozens of appliances will become more of a chore as each week passes.
I like lights – particularly in these dark dog days when night falls at 4pm and when day dawns at 8am and the sun barely appears. The BBC Weather app forecasts only eight hours of sunny “intervals” for the whole of next week whereas my icicle lights can flash away as long as I please.
When I’m bored with my own lights I can view our village’s warm white display of reindeers, penguins and now incongruously unicorns. Sadly though this year all is lit up but there’s nowhere to go.
According to pyschologists decorations do make us happier as they stir up feelings that can literally modify some happy hormones in your body.
“It creates that neurological shift that can produce happiness,” said psychologist Deborah Serani. “Christmas decorating will spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”
This is partly because we generally associate feelings of Christmas with happy parts of our past. The holiday season also stirs up a sense of nostalgia and is a way for us to reconnect with our childhoods.
And there’s even more good news, not only will the early birds feel a sense of happiness, but research shows, so will your neighbours.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that your neighbours may interpret you putting up Christmas decorations as a sign that you’re sociable and approachable.
Psychologist Steve McKeown sums it up perfectly: “In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate with things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.”