Leona O'Neill: I don't like Christmas in September – let's have Halloween first

I may be branded a Scrooge but December is time enough to be getting Christmassy, writes Leona O'Neill. It's September, people – we haven't even had Halloween yet

Some shops have Christmas displays up already – and it's still September

THERE I was wandering around a well-known home furnishings store with my little girl, looking at cushion covers, having the time of our lives when we stumbled across something truly shocking. It’s Christmas already.

My daughter had just asked me how many weeks it was until Halloween, as I told her it was too early to get a costume, with six or so weeks to go. We turned a corner and were immediately blinded by shiny tinsel reflecting fairy lights and baubles the size of our actual heads.

We stumbled around, unsure as to what manner of hell we had walked into. There were giant wicker reindeers and robotic Santas singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas as if it wasn’t in reality a warm and sunny September day outside and we had barely unpacked our summer holidays cases.

With the hands still tanned from our Summer holidays we reached for bunches of mistletoe and garlands for around the fire, we gazed upon 8ft Christmas trees that pump out fake snow, giant gingerbread-style houses and ‘Santa Stop Here’ signs for the front garden. And for a moment we were mesmerised.

Then we caught ourselves on and had to leave, because it felt wrong and dirty to be feeling festive in September. I may be branded a Scrooge but December is time enough to be getting Christmassy. We haven’t even had Halloween yet.

There was once a time when retailers had the decency to wait until midnight, the witching hour, on Halloween to tear down the scary stuff and roll out the sparkly baubles and tinsel. Not now. They’d have it out in July if we let them, or maybe even all year. Wouldn’t that be festive?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Christmas at all. There’s a cafe in Derry that makes Christmas sandwiches the year round. They’re all gorgeous turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce and I have one once a week for lunch. In the summer months I whisper my order to the girl at the deli counter. In November and December and even at the start of January I say it loud and proud: “I want a Christmas sandwich please". Because it’s acceptable then and only then.

It’s not right to be selling Christmas decorations in September. I realise that the retailers are trying to make the most money out of us, I do. But this type of thing takes the magic out of the season. Come December I’m sick of looking at bloody tinsel and I want to smack robotic Santa for singing Rocking Around The Christmas Tree non-stop for three whole months.

And don’t even get me started about supermarkets selling festive bleach or Christmas mince pies with a sell-by-date of October 10.

I know people who prepare for Christmas the whole year round, start buying presents in January for the Christmas almost a year later and are itching to put their Christmas tree by November 1.

Unless you’re five years old Christmas means spending money, stressing over relatives coming to stay, cooking for vast amounts of people, hangovers, navigating shops heaving with other stressed people, wearing stupid Christmas jumpers, helping Santa make everyone’s really expensive wishes come true, queues, apocalyptic weather conditions, shopping-centre Santas and worrying if you’re going to have enough money, time and patience to have ‘the perfect festive season’.

It also means a whole lot of other nice stuff too, yes, but I’d rather not even think about any of it – not Starbucks festive cups, not Frank Sinatra, not tins of Roses or flipping singing reindeers – until December, thanks very much.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, in September, and I don’t like it. Make it stop.

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