In the same way that some people get their houses sparkling before the Christmas festivities, some people also get their garden in tip top Yuletide shape.
Now, I’m not much of a gardener, so the Christmas blossoms at my place are December weeds but my friend Fiona does the following:
- Fills her kitchen garden with vegies that stand a good chance of being ready on the 25th
- Keeps one bed for December-blooming lilies. If they’re running late, she can usually still rustle up one vase full for the house. If they’re on target, she has plenty for magnificent bouquets as Small Presents.
- Plants things around the house that look their best at Christmas
- Sets aside half an hour most December evenings (long, light, lovely, daylight savings evenings) for weeding so that everything is perfect on the Day.
If you’re a gardener, why not do the same?
Christmas Day 1970: Finally, all twenty of us crowded into the lounge room. The adults got the couches and the kids were piled up on the floor and my cousin Caroline, as the oldest child, was delegated the job of handing out the presents. She co-opted Steve (who was five) and Matthew (who was four) and she’d read out a label and hand the present to a little cousin who would deliver it to the recipient. The recipient would unwrap the gift (painfully slowly if they were an adult and in a ripping frenzy if they were a small child) and thank the giver and then Caroline would rinse and repeat.
 Like lawn daisies which are so pretty.
 “I’d like to grow my own cranberries,” she says, “But I’d need my own cranberry bog and my husband won’t let me dig up the barbecue area and my grandchildren won’t let me dismantle the trampoline”.
 And, much as I love the whole concept of Small Presents, I have to admit that a gift you need to carry with two hands packs more initial punch than anything you can slip into your pocket.
 My cousin Russell has a slightly different approach: if a bush isn’t flowering in time for his annual “Santa & Snags” barbecue, he swathes it in fairy lights. (But this is not solely about decoration. “It’s Adults Only,” he explained, “We get through a fair bit of beer, and I’m sick of sending out search parties for people who get lost in the backyard, so now I light it up like… well, like a Christmas tree, really”.)
 Almost always correctly, although I do remember the look of surprise on Uncle Geoff’s face when he mistakenly opened Felicity’s Cry Baby doll.