WITH the First Sunday of Advent now passed we may now put up our Christmas decorations. Some will have done so long ago.
Not at all sure why individuals might do so early though I have a few ideas on that strong impulse.
For the shop keeper the temptation to try start and energise the seasonal sales boost early must be irresistible.
Local governments across Europe promote and revel in their seasonal good cheer. Christmas Markets open across middle Europe not only in Germany but also Belgium and running east to lands that once were behind the Iron Curtain.
A curtain that drew back just 30 years ago to reveal whole peoples that are as eager as the rest of us to go shopping.
From the Arctic North to the Mediterranean we celebrate Christmas shopping and in the depth of winter when the days are at the shortest we gather together and feast.
Exchanging and giving gifts each significant and special however large or small.
Over the coming weeks, carols and seasonal songs will now take root in our ears and we will find ourselves humming along, and I dare say, singing along to our familiar favourites as we go about our daily tasks.
Christmas cards need to be selected and sent to friends and family far away as we reach out to touch again those whom we hold dear in our hearts.
Reminding ourselves they as well as we are part of a wider community however scattered in space and time.
The countdown to Christmas is staged by such special tasks that involve repeated visits to the shops to pick up this and that.
So the lights and decorations that Shop keepers hang out remind us not only to shop for ourselves but to think of others.
Perhaps even do something? At this time of year there are many much less fortunate than ourselves who need a hand.
Consider who in your community is already offering a helping hand and do something with them, give something, even your time is a significant gift.
I am not suggesting that you turn away from friends and family, rather that you look to add to that special group.
In the coming weeks as the days grow shorter still and the nights ever deeper you will walk about the decorated streets and twinkling shopping precincts plotting and planning presents and feasts.
There are several more Sundays in Advent, mark each one in a significant manner, ask yourself did I this last week do something special?
Nick Horne, London, England