Deck the halls and all that

It's not so much that I'm a grinch - a Christmas-hater - it's just all the stress and busy-ness leading up to the event.

I like Christmas. There's nothing better than getting together with the family to celebrate a special day in the Christian calendar, and enjoy some of the "goodwill to all men".

It's the day and weeks before that grind me down.

I'm sure to have shared this with you before, but it's happening all over again. Like groundhog day.

It was bad enough when one or two retailers started erecting their Christmas decorations at the beginning of October. A few more joined the campaign at Labour Weekend and - judging by my "research" at the weekend - more are crossing the line every day.

Last week I watched a young woman at the top of a sturdy set of mobile stairs winding heavy "boughs of (fake) holly" around huge metal girders. The look on her face suggested it wasn't injecting her with much seasonal joy.

By my count, there are exactly 50 sleeps until C Day. That's seven weeks until close of retail.

For someone like me, all I can see ahead is everything that has to be done until the start of the silly season - the month-long holiday when the country shuts down, everyone else is off work and the roads are full of hot and tired drivers.

The diary fills up during the year and now there is a headlong rush to cross off everything carried over from one week to the next. And that's only at work.

If it was as easy as turning up and having a good time on December 25, life would be sweet.

This all makes me sound like the supreme pessimist. That's not really true. My glass is at least half full, but sometimes I just struggle to keep it from spilling.

One thing I am looking forward to is the Garden Marlborough weekend coming up. A busy work week means we won't get to do any of the garden tours, but the fete on Sunday is always excellent for inspiration.

Something else to celebrate is the arrival of fabulous spring weather. Saturday aside - and let's just accept that as a good way to keep up the ground moisture level - last week was one out of the box. And the forecasters tell us there's a 60 per cent chance that summer is going to be at least average.

And of course there's a chance of winning the Melbourne Cup sweep tomorrow. Bring it on.

The Marlborough Express