At Charlie Tiptonâ€™s house, it begins to look a lot like Christmas the last week of September.
â€œWhatâ€™s really funny is watching the trick or treaters come up the sidewalk,â€ Tipton said.
Long before Halloween, Tipton, who is minister of music at Covenant Bible Church, has decked the halls of his house with Santa Clauses and elves.
His house, which sits on Laurel Street in Lincolnton, is decorated from head to toe with garlands. His lawn is filled with lit up artificial Christmas trees and reindeer, one of which has a hot-glued red nose.
The tradition of early-decorating began 10 years ago when his oldest daughter, Lauren Sherrill, was away at college for the first time.
She wouldnâ€™t let the family decorate without her, so instead, they decorated on her fall break.
â€œItâ€™s just special for me, and I just wanted to be there with them to do it,â€ Sherrill said.
Now, the Tipton home is notorious for showing Christmas spirit extremely early.
Most neighbors get a â€œkick out of it,â€ Tipton says, but some people arenâ€™t so complimentary.
This October, for example, a group of people drove past his home and yelled â€œItâ€™s not Christmas.â€ Tipton replied â€œWho says?â€
That seems to sum up his philosophy. Every day of the year a sign that says â€œForever Christmas Eveâ€ hangs in his home, and when his other decorations arenâ€™t on display, they still have a presence.
â€œWeâ€™ve got it everywhere. Itâ€™s in the closets. Itâ€™s in the attic. Itâ€™s in the shed,â€ he said. â€œMy wife has just given in.â€
Pulling out all those decorations takes a lot of time and work, but doing it early â€œgives you more time to enjoy it.â€
When the season is over, it takes two weeks to put the decorations away.
â€œThe taking it down I donâ€™t enjoy,â€ he said. â€œI just get depressed.â€
Needless to say, Christmas is Tiptonâ€™s favorite time of the year. It always has been.
When he was a little boy, his father worked as a construction foreman and always came home â€œdead tired.â€ At Christmas time, things changed for the better.
â€œWhen he had a little time off, he was like a different person,â€ Tipton said.
In general, Tipton believes â€œpeople are just nicer at Christmas.â€
His dedication to the holiday lasts all year long and occasionally puts him in physical danger.
Just two weeks ago, he was standing on the top rung of his ladder, fixing something on the roof of his house, and the ladder broke.
Falling to the ground he thought â€œI wander whatâ€™s going to break.â€
Luckily, all he did was sprain his ankle, a small price to pay for his favorite holiday.
â€œHeâ€™s always been like that,â€ Sherrill said. â€œHeâ€™s always just been like a kid about it.â€
His Christmas-enthusiasm goes beyond decorations. He also has a special red and white striped robe that belonged to his grandfather.
At 7 a.m. on Christmas morning, â€œHe puts it on and unwraps his presents,â€ Sherrill said.
And while Tipton has slowed down on his decorating over the years, his daughter is carrying on his tradition. She put up Christmas decorations at her Pumpkin Center home two weeks before Halloween.
â€œSheâ€™s pretty much a decorating freak too,â€ Tipton said.
They love Christmas so much because of tradition and family and, as Sherrill puts it, â€œthe true meaning is about Jesus. Thatâ€™s why I just love this time of year.â€
Those who know Tipton have become used to his zeal.
A few years ago, when his decorations werenâ€™t up before October, neighbors even became concerned.
â€œThey said â€˜We thought you must be sick or something,â€ Tipton said.
by Sarah Grano