THERE has been a battle of wills in our house: the kids wanted to put up the Christmas tree and decorations, while I felt it was too early.

The discussions began last week as the kids started playing Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. They started nagging me and my wife to put the tree up, but I insisted it was too early.

Then this week, as we went shopping in the dark, they saw a Christmas tree with sparkling lights in someone’s window.

The next day, we saw three more houses with Christmas decorations; so no longer one lone wolf example but a trend.

This was used by my kids as evidence for the prosecution against my defence of tradition.

And my seven-year-old daughter began to not just nag me but take my arguments apart with the precision and brutal skill of a corporate lawyer.

My line of defence was predictable: “If we put them up too early they will be less special”; “you are not supposed to put them up before the beginning of December or the start of Advent”; “it’s the way things were done in the house when I was young”.

I will summarise my daughter’s reply because it came out in a passionate flow of words, deeply charged with emotion, just as we were about to leave for school one morning:

“Like you always say, dad, who made these rules anyway? Plus, you’ve always said we should make our own traditions, and I’m not old like you so I want to make traditions for us. It’s so boring just now, so many things we can’t do because of the virus, it’s dark outside so we can’t go to the beach or wood like we usually do after tea, but there are so many places closed or that we can’t go to that we usually do in wintertime. I don’t even know for sure if Santa will be allowed to come this Christmas,” she said.

“If we put up our tree and decorations, it’s not just for us, it’s for everyone else who feels fed up in this cold and dark with all the things we can’t do. We can do this to make us feel better, to make us feel more cheery and make the darkness not so scary, but like magical.”

I stood stunned by the passion of my seven-year-old daughter, and the realisation that, of course, she was right. She had articulated what I think many of our young people feel; many grown-ups too. Once she had finished, she got emotional and needed a hug.

I felt like that Calvinistic penguin in the film Happy Feet who wouldn’t allow dancing because it wasn’t traditional.

“OK”, I said “you are right.” Skye burst into excitement.

I decided while the children were at school I would go to the attic and get the tree and decorations to surprise them when we got home.

We will listen to Christmas music, dance and put up the decorations.

We will do our best to bring light and joy to this dark, cold time for passers-by, as well as ourselves; we will make those new family traditions. We will decorate our drive and we will find ways to bring light to dark places and make cheer for others.

Maybe we can put lights in parts of the woods, and make them a magical place to visit, with music and Christmas characters?

Maybe we can have a snowman hunt in our town, even if there’s no snow?

Imagine if every drive in a street was decorated. Lots of people will have different creative ideas, for if there is anything this year has shown us it’s that communities can get together even when they can’t be physically together.

So let’s make this the year of the community Christmas more than ever before.

I know lots of people will already be doing this, and I look forward to getting involved and seeing the creativity of others and sharing ideas. And our family will play our part!

I’m actually feeling excited about it now! The magic is already taking effect – thanks to the wisdom of my seven-year-old!