Forget sad Thanksgiving: early Christmas fever takes over

A combination photo shows views of Danielle Martin’s home, already dolled up for Christmas, in Manteno, Ill. Martin is a huge fan of Christmas, but she usually waits to decorate until the day after Thanksgiving. This year she got busy Nov. 1.

NEW YORK (AP) — Lindsey Catarino is the talk of her neighborhood. She put up her Christmas tree, lights and all, in mid-September. By Oct. 1, her mantel was decorated. Since, she has added more trees and decorations in just about every room of her Connecticut condo.

The goal for the 42-year-old Catarino, like other newly minted early birds, is to bring on the warmth and comfort of Christmas by beating back “an otherwise insane world.”

As some holiday tree sellers fear they’ll sell out by Thanksgiving and parcel shipping companies worry about November gridlock, a growing number of people on a quest for joy have bucked tradition and gone full-on Christmas weeks earlier than they normally would.

“It has definitely overtaken me, and very early,” said Catarino, who lives in West Hartford. “I enjoy being home in a different way. It just gives me a chance to be busy on something that’s happy. I wanted my house to bring me that peace, and we just want to tune out. The election was the final straw.”

She’s definitely not alone.

Brandon Stephens, president of the professional holiday decorating company Christmas Decor, said early business is up 15% to 20% compared to the same period last year. Orders came in as early as April — for April, he said. The company’s franchises serviced more than 43,000 homes and businesses last year around the country and expect a jump to about 52,000 this year. Most of the early activity is residential.

“We knew that it was kind of an emotional response. People were looking for hope. People were looking for something to feel good about while cooped up in their houses,” he said. “Lots of folks are not traveling for the holiday so they are celebrating at home.”

Jacob Pinkham, a new father in Huntington Beach, California, said he and his wife had a hardfast no-Christmas-’til-December rule, until this year amid pandemic fatigue, election turmoil and the economic devastation hitting millions around the world.

The couple got to thinking about their Christmas trip to Cork, Ireland, a few years back and the all-Christmas radio station they discovered there, Christmas FM. They’ve been listening for weeks.

“Our daughter was born just before COVID hit so having to deal with being a new parent, a new family and with a highly contagious virus circulating, we decided we needed some Christmas cheer earlier than usual,” he said.

Pinkham’s favorite holiday tune? If he had to choose, it would be Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.”

Danielle Martin, 42, in Manteno, Illinois, is a big Christmas person. But usually she waits to decorate until the day after Thanksgiving. This year she got busy on Nov. 1, a candy cane themed front porch included.

“It’s probably earlier than most but we love it,” she said. “It definitely made a change in our moods,” she said of herself, her husband and her three kids, ages 10, 7 and 5. “The world is so difficult right now for everybody, so we were ready.”

Martin put up a hot cocoa bar, stockings on the fireplace mantel, a large framed sheet of music for the song “Jingle Bells” and a 9-foot tree, among other decorations. And that’s just the living room.

Each of her kids will soon have their own tree in their rooms. When she’s done, Martin said there will be seven trees in all.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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