Christmas items are appearing in the shops and the occasional burst of Christmas music can be heard.
I know these early displays drive some people crazy, but not me.
Christmas is my favourite time of the year.
I have so many happy memories from growing up in Whittlesey, just outside our city.
I still recall playing with family and friends in the freezing cold and the snow, looking forward to the magical day, and then of playing with the gifts I received.
Although I understand why some groan when they hear carols being played in November, the inner child in me starts to get excited.
These days, my Christmas is all about my two daughters, and children across Peterborough.
Obviously, it’s not just a time for children, but their enjoyment and wonder is what makes it special for me.
That’s why, with a festive spring in my step, I have launched this year’s Paul Bristow MP Christmas Card Competition.
In fact, I have contacted every primary school in my constituency, inviting them to take part.
I’m asking pupils to design my Christmas card for me.
Drawings, paintings and graphics are all eligible. Anything goes, provided it tugs at the seasonal heart strings.
Every year, I send thousands of cards to friends, constituents, charities, local organisations and colleagues.
One card even goes to the Prime Minister, who is nice enough to send his own back.
The front of mine will proudly display the winning design from Peterborough. The winner (or potentially winners, for a combined effort) will also be invited on a visit the House of Commons.
Last year’s winner was Kaitlyn from the Thomas Deacon Academy. There were also great runners-up, namely Aleksander from the Lime Academy Parnwell, and a joint effort from Inayah and Inaya at West Town Primary Academy.
Kaitlyn’s design was a thing of beauty. I know from personal conversations that her card brought festive cheer at what was still an incredibly difficult time for so many.
Something as simple as a child’s drawing can mean so much. Despite being such a talented young artist, sadly I haven’t been unable to host Kaitlyn at Westminster yet, because of the ongoing pandemic. There are still some fairly inflexible rules on access and visitors.
But a promise is a promise, and as soon it can be arranged, my competition winners will be down in London. I hope that regular school visits to Parliament will also return soon. It’s always great to bring local schoolchildren to the place where I work, and fight for Peterborough.
I relish showing others what’s special about our city. Peterborough’s children are part of that – and its their imagination and creativity that I want on my cards. Our children are the future.
I had a great time with my team last year, going through all the submissions. This is going to be a lot of fun.
And if you can’t quite muster your own excitement for Christmas yet – but want to keep the kids occupied for an hour or so this weekend – my competition might be the solution.
Entries don’t have to be made through a school. You can post them directly to Paul Bristow MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Just remember that each entry needs to include a name, age and address. An email address or phone number is also useful.
Let the fun start and the painting commence!