December 23 is circled on my calendar in red, with
December 23 is circled on my calendar in red, with "Christmas shopping” written beside it in big letters.

A bit early for festive cheer

I HAVE it on good authority that Christmas decorations have already gone up in local shopping centres.

I haven't seen it for myself, of course.

December 23 is circled on my calendar in red, with "Christmas shopping" written beside it in big letters.

Not a day before or a day later (except for the time I did all my shopping just before midnight on December 24 after a particularly enjoyable staff Christmas party ... everybody got undies that year - even the girls).

My point is that today is November 12 and if it's true that Christmas decorations have already gone up, that means they'll be up there for at least six weeks by the time Christmas Day arrives.

I always believed you put your Christmas tree and decorations up on December 1

and anything before that was actually illegal.

The Christmas Police would come around and put your Christmas butt in Santa's jail, where you'd spend the festive season packing bags of coal for kids who'd been naughty.

Mum wasn't lying to me about that, was she?

I did a Google search and it said decorations traditionally go up in late November or early December to coincide with Advent.

No mention of jail though.

Of course, putting a tree up was a lot more complicated when I was young.

First, we had to pile into the station wagon and head into the State Forest, where dad would spent a couple of hours hacking at a fairly scrawny specimen with a hatchet while we formed a perimeter and kept an eye out for the ranger.

For obvious reasons, dad left the tree until the last minute most years.

And any tree small enough to fit in the station wagon with mum, dad, a tribe of kids and the family dog was never going to be a magnificent specimen. By that time we'd spent weeks making home-made decorations out of coloured paper, glue made of flour and water, rolls of tinsel and tiny containers of fairy dust. No plastic tree and store-bought decorations for us. We had to earn our Christmas fun.

So this year we're going back to the Bathersby family tradition and heading into the bush armed with nothing more than a song in our hearts and a hatchet in my hand. But it might have to be next weekend.

Or the one after.

Once I've had a chance to break the news to my wife.

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