Will the giant, inflatable Santas save us? Let us pray.
With the city’s joy reserves at an all-time low, people have started decorating for Christmas so early that the displays popping up all around town might reasonably be confused for leftovers from last Christmas (when our biggest problem was a sexist commercial for an exercise bike).
How early are we talking?
On a warm day in October, Alessandra Pollina, a publicist from Dorchester, went to the new Target in her neighborhood and purchased and immediately began using an Advent calendar — which she configured to last for 57 days.
“I can’t wait until December first,” she said. "I need something to look forward to.”
People are trying to buy live Christmas trees so far in advance that they might not even survive until the actual holiday, said Chris Gregory, an owner of Boston Christmas Trees.
“If you take good care of it, it might last four weeks — but not for eight or 10," he said. “It’s been crazy. People were calling before Halloween.”
Magic 106.7 switched to its all-Christmas music format at 6 a.m. on Friday, a week earlier than usual. Never mind that by Dec. 25 the Christmas tunes may build to toxic levels, we’ve got the here and now to make it through.
“People need something to make them feel good,” said morning host David O’Leary.
But wait — what about Thanksgiving? Isn’t that the next holiday on the calendar, like in less than two weeks?
Whatever you do, don’t mention Thanksgiving! It’s either going to be a hideous super-spreading event, or one that forces grandma out into the backyard, sitting a socially distanced 6 feet, forking turkey under her mask in the November chill.
So many people started decorating for Christmas on the Sunday after Halloween — before the foam tombstones had been respectfully packed away —that Nov. 1 has rightfully turned into the kick-off to Christmas this year.
All we need is a Starbucks drink to make it official. The Christoween Spice Latte.
In Stoneham on that Sunday, Kayleigh Wanzer, a middle school English teacher, lit a pine-scented candle, hung white lights, put a small tree in her dining room, and cranked Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.”
“It started as a joke,” she said of the holiday music, but then she realized she was singing along, and she non-ironically moved onto Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You,” et al.
“My fiancé and I were supposed to get married this past August,” she said, but COVID prompted them to postpone the wedding, “so I feel like these small things help bring a little bit of happiness in an otherwise weird year.”
In Peabody, in a break with his traditional Thanksgiving start, wedding DJ Chuck Uglietta, of 617 Weddings, has already put up his famous display at his house — which includes but is not limited to: a 15-foot Mickey Mouse, a Snoopy driving an airplane, and a Disney castle.
“I want people to look at it and not worry about anything for the next 10 minutes," he said.
Uh, we’ll try. Maybe three?
The armies of nutcrackers and lights and huge snowflakes look nice, but in reality, they’re a festive cry for help, a Hail Mary to make up for birthday parties that weren’t, a summer that wasn’t, a Thanksgiving that won’t.
“We lost a couple of loved ones this year,” said Kelly Santos, a former teacher, from Woburn. "Thankfully not to COVID, but unexpectedly.”
The family has gone into "full Christmas mode,” she said on Thursday, as her preschoolers played with a Santa’s village set and a batch of tree-shaped chocolate chip cookies sat on her kitchen counter.
The decorations lift everyone’s spirits, she said. Well, almost everyone’s. “I’ve gotten some flak from neighbors. They are saying it’s too early.”
The side eye is coming from inside the Woburn house, too, specifically from Santos' own mother, who visited on a 70-degree day when the family was setting up their outside display.
“Kelly, you’re cuckoo,” her mom said, “but I love it”.
In Dorchester, Latoya Trout kick-started Christmas after a plea from her 5-year-old, when she was taking down the Halloween decor and the void loomed. “Mommy, can we put up the Christmas tree now?'”
She thought about all he’d missed out on this past year and how he’s doing kindergarten by Zoom, and said, “Sure baby."
So the tree is up in the living room, but not, it must be noted, in its traditional — prime — spot, by the window. Trout, an accounting supervisor, has been working from home since the pandemic hit and that valuable real estate has become her office.
“Mommy,” little Peyton said, “your desk is taking up the Christmas tree space.”
Welcome to 2020, kid.
Beth Teitell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.