An irritated colleague sent me photos last week of the Christmas decorations and animations at Dunmail Park in Workington.

The irritation was caused by the fact that Asda was still selling pumpkins and Halloween costumes and it was ridiculously early to start thinking about Christmas.

I can tell you this was not the earliest anticipation of the festive season I have encountered.

I was in a garden centre in Carlisle at least three weeks ago, probably four. They had all their Christmas wares out on display. They hadn’t completed the decorations yet but anything Christmassy you needed to buy was right there – from Christmas trees (what a price they are!) to snow globes to giant Santas, in kilts, playing the bagpipes.

I wonder if the latter was the commercial response to the fear that Scotland may hold another, and this time successful, independence vote.

Anyway, I tutted when I got Lynne’s email and sighed at the nonsense of a Christmas which seems to last longer every year.

Then I started to really think about it instead of my usual knee-jerk reaction.

First I thought about Christmas and how far it has come since a baby was born in a stable and laid down in a manger.

For those who want it to be, Christmas is still a wondrous celebration where God became man.

But, really, it has been taken over and is now just a celebration. I was in Kuala Lumpur a couple of Decembers ago and their Christmas decorations were absolutely fabulous. I have never seen so many beautifully decorated trees and gorgeous Christmas glitter.

Then my daughter informed me that Malaysia doesn’t even close on Christmas day. All Christmas is is a selling opportunity.

And, like it or not, that is what it is in most of the world now.

Take our shopping habits. How many of us can honestly say we will not be buying some or all of our Christmas presents online this year?

I’ve put out hypocritical appeals in this column before, urging people to shop locally and also use their small independent shops. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the theory – even as I am ordering the latest Amazon bargain!

Christmas is often the difference between success and survival for many businesses nowadays. They have to make the very best out of the season and I guess they have to make that season last as long as possible.

I was in a shop at the beginning of last month and heard a father telling his kid not to be asking for toys “because Santa will be coming soon”.

It’s going to be a long wait for that little boy but if parents are using the Christmas excuse that early in the year, we can’t expect the shops to do less.

I lived in the Southern Hemisphere for more than 50 of my 69 years so I love northern Christmasses where you can actually see the lights and enjoy a turkey dinner in the cold. So bring it on, I say!