As I ventured into my campus Starbucks on Nov. 4 for a warm, fall drink, I was instead greeted by employees wearing Santa hats and handing out coffees in Christmas-inspired cups. I even entered my friend’s dorm room to the Christmas anthem we’ve all grown to love, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
It seems that people are ready for the holiday season but forget the one that falls on the fourth Thursday of the month, Thanksgiving. After Halloween, even stores begin their display of candy canes, wreaths and Christmas desserts. It seems Thanksgiving, a national holiday, is often forgotten. Although I love Thanksgiving, I even catch myself driving to the beat of Christmas music and drinking coffee with pumps of peppermint at the start of November. Like me, for many college students, Christmas, and December in general, signifies a long break from the overwhelming stresses of college life. But it seems this popular desire for Christmas overlooks another important holiday that celebrates gratitude and an appreciation for loved ones.
There may even be an explanation as to why people feel the need to get into the holiday spirit early. In light of the global pandemic, it appears people found joy in decorating early. According to the Los Angeles Times, “research suggests that visual representations of holiday cheer can have a tangible effect on our minds.”
In a 2015 study, the news source “successfully attempted ‘to detect and localize the Christmas spirit in the human brain.'” It was found that people who were shown images associated with a Christmas theme had increased brain activation. Additionally, many people decorate for Christmas even before Thanksgiving. Medical physicist Bryan Haddock details how this may elicit an even stronger brain reaction.
“. . . while the study’s subjects were shown general Christmas images, a more intense brain reaction could be triggered by seeing the comforting, familiar decorations you use every year,” – the Los Angeles Times.
While the topic of when it is “appropriate” to embark on holiday traditions, like listening to Christmas music, watching movies, and decorating continues to be an ongoing debate, it seems engaging in holiday-related fun early may actually contribute to a person’s overall joy.