Toppled over Christmas tree with decorations and lights
I’m not sure I’ve ever known the yuletide season to start so early (Picture: Getty Images)

Bonfire Night is barely over and already Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas has re-entered the charts, the supermarket aisles are full of festive food, and Stacey Solomon has started putting up her tree and decorations.

Call me a grinch, but it just doesn’t seem right.

As a child of the 80s, the build-up to the festive season looked worlds away from what it is today.

My sister and I used to go to bed on Christmas Eve with not a hint of Christmas in the house.

Come the following morning though, our house had been turned into a regular winter wonderland.

There would be a tree twinkling with fairy lights in the corner of the living room, foil coloured decorations draped from the ceiling, and bowls of Quality Streets and nuts dotted around the sideboards.

Not to mention the smell of roasting turkey wafting through the house. 

Yes, it must have been a near impossible mission for ‘Santa and his Elves’ to get all that done after my sister and I had gone to sleep. But the sense of true magic to come downstairs to that on Christmas morning will never leave me.

Over the years though things have changed and the Christmas festivities seem to start earlier each year. And 2023 seems to be no exception.

A young Rachel and her sister standing in front of their Christmas tree at home, wearing matching 80's patterned jumpsuits and earrings.
My sister and I used to go to bed on Christmas Eve with not a hint of Christmas in the house (Picture: Rachel Tompkins)

Whether it’s down to the soggy Summer, Autumn and Winter we’ve had, or a post-Covid legacy of people wanting to make up for lost festivities of Christmases of recent years, I’m not sure I’ve ever known the yuletide season to start so early. 

In the space of just about a month we’ve had temperatures over 30 degrees and now we are full-steam ahead into Ho-Ho-hell.

But this year I’m taking a stand against this early Christmas madness, this consumerism gone crazy. 

I’m saying a firm ‘no’ to spending and celebrating earlier than ever.

I learnt my lesson the hard way last year when I excitedly enlisted the help of my two boys, then aged nine and six, to help me put our Christmas tree and decorations up in November, just after fireworks night.

The whole family thought I had lost my mind at first. We usually put our tree up early to mid-December.

‘But it’s only November!’ they gasped, puzzled.

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When they realised I wasn’t joking and saw that I had begun decorating, the boys got excited and got involved – the tin of Quality Street may have been an added incentive!

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Inspired by celebrities such as Rochelle Humes, Amy Hart and Helen Flanagan, I thought it would be a perfect way of injecting some fun into what was a dreary November.  

However, the reality was anything but merry and bright.

The novelty of having the tree twinkling in the corner of the living room quickly wore off as the needles dropped and baubles crashed to the floor.

Other activities that I usually looked forward to at Christmas soon became tedious too. There’s only so many Christmas songs you can listen to without them beginning to get boring.

After consuming tins of chocolates that were dotted around the place, I felt like my body needed a detox by the time the big day arrived.

Rachel's childhood Christmas tree with presents sitting underneath.
We definitely won’t be getting the tree or decorations up early (Picture: Rachel Tompkins)

In fact, by the time Christmas Day finally came around we were all pretty fed up –  even our tree looked more like a weeping willow than a proud pine.

‘It feels like it’s been in the living room forever!’ my youngest son remarked on Boxing Day.

Everything that usually made this day magical and special felt old news. We were over Christmas and it had barely even begun.

By a few days after Christmas we were all so sick of the sight of it all, we took the tree and decorations down much earlier than we previously had.

So this year, when I walked into Tesco at the start of November during my weekly shop and saw the Christmas aisle already stacked, and later that day saw that Stacey Solomon already had her decorations up – I made a decision. 

Enough was enough.

As we drove back from watching a fireworks display, I put my foot down.

‘This year we are going to celebrate Christmas the way it was when I was young,’ I announced to my family.

Rachel sitting in front of her Christmas tree as an adult, with her kid picking up gifts, there are presents and wrapping paper everywhere. Rachel is laughing and there's a scarf placed on her head.
The whole family thought I had lost my mind at first (Picture: Rachel Tompkins)

I want my kids to experience the magic of Christmas once again.

I want them to be excited about the tree and the presents again. Not bored of staring at a limp tree or sick of their favourite chocolates from the tin. 

Of course, this decision was met with some scepticism. My kids even thought I was joking at first when I told them that we were leaving the decorating to Santa and his helpers. 

But once they got their heads around the initial shock and disappointment they weren’t too bothered, and attention soon shifted back to their Christmas lists. 

Meanwhile I am uttering a big sigh of relief. 

For all of November, and most of December, our house will be a Christmas-free zone.

You can forget boxes of Celebrations or Quality Street getting hoovered up by the dozen and there’ll be no All I want for Christmas blaring out from the Alexa.

The Holiday won’t be our choice of TV viewing, and we definitely won’t be getting the tree or decorations up early. 

Because we will be waiting until Christmas Day itself to celebrate – just like the good old days. 

I realise it’s a lot to take on for Christmas Eve, but I think the stress and late night will be well worth the magic. 

And unlike other years I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet either – I don’t plan to until December arrives.

Celebrating Christmas in November is consumerism gone crazy and I’m not falling for it this year. Instead I’m making a stand to keep Christmas special.

My kids might not thank me for it in the short term, but when they wake up on the 25 December to what will be a truly magical transformation I know it’s a memory they’ll never forget.

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