This weekend brings with it the first day of December and once that page on the calendar turns, it’s completely acceptable to start getting excited about Christmas.

That’s right folks! Time to root out all your festive finery, freshen up your Christmas jumpers, start decking the halls and drift off to sleep with dreams of a white Christmas.

Okay, perhaps that’s a little bit excessive because we’re still almost a month away from the day itself, but it means that getting a seasonal little jingle stuck in your head is more of a pleasure than a curse when it sticks around for hours. Now if you accidently start humming loudly enough to be heard by those around you or burst out into full song, then you can play it off as a one-person concert that came from a burst of merriment rather than just because you forgot yourself for a moment.

While I’m a fully paid up member of the “No Christmas preparations until the last month” club, I totally understand that there are other people who think that there’s nothing better than wrangling with the Christmas tree the day after they throw out their pumpkins. My only issue comes when those same people are saying that they’re sick of the sight of tinsel before they’ve even had a chance to fill up on turkey sandwiches!

Then again, there are some who prefer to take a more minimalist approach when it comes to their décor. Perhaps a small tree in the corner with only a few tasteful baubles here and there; only given floor space for a few days either side of the big day.

Each to their own. What is good for me mightn’t be the best thing for you and vice versa. Everyone adopts their own way of doing things and while the odd joke is fine, to actually try and make someone feel guilty for catching the tinsel bug early or being immune to it altogether is so against what the holiday is actually about.

While it was tradition in our house to always have the tree up on 1st December, we could delay for a day or two if circumstances dictated. However, that’s changed over the past decade to meaning that it must go up on the first of the month no matter what crisis may hit.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll likely mention it many times more: my youngest brother has severe autism. It means many things to him and to us: far more than could ever be explained in this short space. He’s the happiest teenager you could ever meet and some of the smallest things fill him with joy. Unlike most teenagers, he doesn’t ask for much so when he does, our family try their best to make that happen for him.

His most recent request was to go and see the Christmas lights being switched on in town which wasn’t a bother. He’s not really a fan of waiting around or being in a crowd, so last year we took advantage of the quieter area that had been set aside for those with additional needs. It was great as things were quiet, comfortable and warm but it was a little bit difficult to see Santa when he turned up to do the honours. Still, it was something that made the whole event a lot easier for our family and many others so we were very grateful and had no qualms about using it again.

So, we did the same this year, but it was much improved. With the town centre closed off to traffic, we were able to talk with a very nice policeman and after a short conversation, he moved the cones for me to drive on through to park close to where everything was happening. It’s the little things like that which make it so much easier for us to go anywhere as a whole family group as either I’m doing a drop off and then hunting for a parking space or we all dander in together and he’s knackered by the time we get to where we need to be making it miserable for him. However, accessible parking and understanding people completely changed that on Saturday night.

After some seamless parking, we made our way up the street to find the accessible area and it was perfectly placed beside the stage with seats available for anyone who wanted one. We had a perfect view of the sign language interpreter as well so anyone who needed her could enjoy the festivities along with the rest. Instead of being crushed, there was plenty of space to move around and that’s something very important for some people who have autism: none of us like having our personal space invaded but take that and multiply it a few hundred times and that’s somewhere around the serious discomfort levels that some would have.

It doesn’t take a grand gesture to make an event accessible to as many people as possible. Sometimes it just takes a moment to step back and look at how things can be made easier for a small group of people. It might mean cordoning off an area like was done on Saturday night or it might mean putting in a temporary ramp. Knowing what to expect in advance is important for all of us but especially those who dislike surprises or thrive on a planned routine. Guide dogs are already legally protected, but water and a secure exercise area will always be appreciated.

The steps the council have taken to bring about inclusivity are huge and I know they’ll be appreciated by so many. No matter who you are, you go to an event to enjoy yourself and absorb the whole atmosphere so taking a little bit of the stress away for families and carers is key. This should be the accessibility standard all organisers hold themselves to. A little bit of consideration goes an awful long way.