I began celebrating the holidays well before the month of December began

With each passing year, it seems that the Christmas season gets extended by at least a week, and 2013 was no exception.

I was seeing artificial evergreen trees, complete with lights and ornaments, keeping company with Santa-themed décor in several stores as early as mid-September.

That’s right — we hadn’t even picked out Halloween costumes, pumpkins wouldn’t go on sale for a couple more weeks, yet you could stock up on wrapping paper, bows, Christmas lights, and unofficially kick off the Christmas season — all three months of it.

It may seem a bit over the top, but here’s the thing — I am all for it.

I must confess, with Central Oregonian readers as my witness, that I am a Christmas junkie.

I am that person who visits those September and October Christmas aisles and marvels at all the shiny, festive splendor in eager anticipation. I am the one who was listening to holiday tunes on the radio by mid-November. Before Thanksgiving had passed, I had already watched “Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story,” “The Santa Clause,” and most likely a couple other holiday movies.

On our fireplace mantle sits a candle holder that counts down the days left until Christmas. Each day, I religiously make sure to update that countdown to keep it current.

I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

I’m not really sure how I turned out this way — especially in adulthood. I don’t think that it’s learned behavior. After all, as a young boy, it seemed that most grown-ups barely survived the holidays. They would endure bank-breaking shopping trips in packed department stores. They would spend hours cleaning house to host massive family gatherings that leave more hours of housecleaning in their wake. They would lament the snow and its affect on the roads, and shiver through cold days and long nights, wishing for poolside summer days.

I guess I understand where they were coming from. In my adulthood, the holidays have gotten pretty expensive, and the snow creates some white knuckle moments at the wheel. The cold nights do bite a bit harder than they used to, and in my weaker moments, I think back to 80-degree evenings clad in shorts and flip-flops.

Yet, here I am, 36 years into my life, and I remain a Christmas junkie. I guess I just have a knack for seeing the silver lining in things.

Yes, the shopping has a way of emptying the wallet, and stores can get pretty crazy, but in the end, you wind up with a treasure trove of shiny packages underneath your Christmas tree, just begging for a shake.

How do I feel about cold and snowy weather? Well, my parents would tell you about the child they raised that at least three times an hour, flicked on the back porch light and peered out the window to see how deep the snow had gotten. This same child even went to the trouble of locating a ruler to stick in the fresh-fallen snow for an official measurement — again up to three times an hour. Some things never change, by the way. As recently as last winter, I tracked down a tape measure (couldn’t find a ruler) and dipped it in the brand-new snow.

Having confessed my Christmas fixation, I should point out that it comes with some limitations, lest I be considered a complete nut — as opposed to sort of nuts.

First of all, I try to limit my celebration to the three-month window I referenced earlier. I could never live in Santa Claus, Ind., a town where Christmas is celebrated year-round, community-wide. Also, if the stores started to display holiday merchandise in August, I would probably roll my eyes and wonder what the retail world has come to. Three months of Christmas is one thing, but four months? Well, that’s just absurd. Who does that?

You also won’t catch me in an ugly holiday sweater — or even a nice-looking holiday sweater. Yes, I love Christmas — no, I don’t need to wear it.

Lastly, when it comes to exterior decorating, you won’t see me go all Clark Griswold on my house and try to cover every last square inch in lights. It’s probably for the best, since my modest light display took several hours and moments of frustration and colorful language to complete. If I tried to keep pace with my neighbor, whose light display makes mine look like a flashlight under a bed sheet by comparison, I’m pretty sure the project would make my head explode.

As the holiday season draws to a close, with Christmas only one day away, I sincerely hope you and your family enjoy it. There really is no time of the year quite like it. Whether you enjoy it on the same level I do is up to you and your definition of proper mental health, but I’d like to think that my confession will encourage other Christmas junkies to emerge and spread holiday cheer. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, I have inspired some of the Grinches among us to see the holiday in a new light.

So from me to all of you, Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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