A Christmas tree next to a fireplace. The featured Christmas tree is among many at the home of Bill, Terri and their son Nick Mitchell. Mjs Christmas Mitchell 11

As someone born on Dec. 25, I justifiably have a complicated relationship with Christmas. There’s nothing like a major holiday eclipsing your birthday. I have forever wished that I was delivered on another day or even another holiday. How about Arbor Day? Nobody ever has Arbor Day plans.

But the one thing that I’ve always loved about this time of year is Christmas trees. They are lovely. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve “O Tannenbaum”. Decorating the tree was one of the few traditions that my Jamaican-American family always took part in. Tooth fairy visit? Forget about it. Never left me a dime. Turkey on Thanksgiving or ham on Easter Sunday? Sometimes.

But every first weekend of December, that Christmas tree went up. Usually Saturday night, we strung the lights (the blinking ones) and hung the ornaments. As a child, you always assume that everyone is having the same experiences as you. Therefore, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered there’s quite a debate over when is the appropriate time to decorate the Christmas tree. It was shocking to learn that some families don’t even wait until December.

Most Jamaicans — at least the ones I’m related to — don’t like to rush. So my family certainly wasn’t going to acknowledge Christmas before Thanksgiving. That’s inconceivable. However, there are plenty of people who not only joyously bust out the decorations before November ends. Some will even do so at the start of the month.

It’s one thing for Costco to have Christmas trees on display while it’s still summer. But it’s another thing to do so at home before Dec. 1. What’s the hurry? It’s almost like people are afraid that if they don’t get them out early, they might forget, and Santa will rocket past your house assuming that you don’t celebrate the Yuletide season.

According to multiple internet sources, some believe that Christmas trees should be put up at the start of Advent which begins on the fourth Sunday ahead of Christmas. This year, that’s Nov. 27. My mother is Catholic and my father is Protestant. Seems like the kind of rule we should have followed. But that didn’t happen. No Christmas tree until December. No exceptions.


Architectural Digest Magazine wrote that some of the most popular times for decorating the tree are The Day After Thanksgiving (Black Friday), Advent, and 12 days before Christmas. That last one seems out of place. No one, especially people with young children, is waiting that long.

The pandemic certainly changed the holiday season. At the height of the 2020 quarantine, we were all looking for something to feel good about. We didn’t know when life was going to return to normal. So decorating the Christmas tree as early as October became a thing. And for some, it became a new tradition. 

A Christmas tree in October is a bit much, but we’re not going to be the joy police. If you’re ready for chestnuts roasting on an open fire, if you want to hang the stockings by the chimney with care, or if all you want for Christmas is more Mariah Carey songs, go right ahead.

In a polarized America, let’s celebrate our differences when it comes to when’s the right time to put up the tree.

Just don’t be one of those people who have their Christmas wreaths still out in February

Happy Holidays.

Related: Your guide to surviving the holiday season 

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.