Amy French

You know those people, the ones who start putting out the pumpkin stuff the second the calendar turns from the bitter end of August to day one of the “ember” months.

They are the reason why the home improvement stores have massive Halloween inflatables casting long shadows over your shopping cart while you just wanted some ant spray and potting soil.

They are probably the people posting pictures of the pumpkin latte they just got at the drive through. #isithalloweenyet

They make candy corn out of old two by fours and acrylic paints and try melting crayons on pumpkins for colorful striped projects. Or photograph smoke bombs billowing out of the freshly carved gourds.

These are most likely the people who also decorate for Christmas as soon as they clean up the last wrappers from trick-or-treating, taking down fake tombstones and promptly stringing up lights on timers, often to their neighbors’ dismay.

It is how Tim Burton developed the idea for “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He explained in an interview that he was in a store watching the changeover from Halloween to Christmas—the odd juxtaposition of decorations lining store aisles.

For years I have seen these people ridiculed on social media for getting ahead of the holidays, so to speak.

I know because I am one of them. (All except the pumpkin latte, hashtag business.)

There are those who, over the years, jump in excitedly with me and then those who politely endure and possibly roll eyes.

It is safe to say I have not been dissuaded.

One of my earliest Christmas memories is of waking my parents in the dark of night, ready to go and see what is under the tree only to be handed a digital watch. I was told when the numbers on the green glowing screen read 5-0-0 I could come back and wake them up.

Huddled under those blankets, my eyes burned with fatigue as I watched minute by minute creep by.

Yes, I am one of those people. And I have offspring who have followed in those same it’s-never-too-early-to-start-celebrating-and-anticipating footsteps.

My oldest son sent me a video on the evening of Sept. 1. It is a slow scan starting at the front door of his new home and moving room by room showing every freestanding pumpkin character, undulating ghost projection on walls, spider web table runner and skeleton. It ends with him doing a fantastic dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

It brought a smile to my face. It brings me joy to see my child having fun.

A few years ago, there was a study released by psychologists which concluded people who decorate for Christmas earlier are, in fact, happier.

It has also been shown there is the perception by neighbors that those people are friendlier. I could certainly use this bit of P.R.

Before any scientific evidence was backing me up, this was already a way of life. Though the study did not consider it, I would offer decorating early for all of the holidays induce these similar results.

I have wondered, does this mean I am immature? Or as online critics have proffered, not enjoying the moment, rushing things along?

The opposite, I believe, is true. This is celebrating the moment as well as anticipating new memories to be made. The study cited the nostalgia from childhood for those who have fond memories of holidays with family.

There is also the great dopamine spike that helps shift your mindset and can literally make you smile.

To quote Buddy the Elf, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”

Ultimately these are opportunities to encourage one another, offer hope in a frequently (these days especially) hopeless feeling world.

Joy which surpasses any kind of surface-level happiness is foundational. It can undergird and bring strength in the face of adversity.

While it does not mean taking lightly the seriousness of the day, it does mean holding onto hope and looking for the joy that cannot be snatched away.

When the days are long with stern-faced news anchors and scowling politicians and general heartache, I am all for opportunities to spark joy and encourage those around.

Just follow the science.

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