November 17, 2012, 10.34am. More than a month before Christmas; that was when I heard my first Christmas song in my local shopping mall this year.
I shouldn't have been surprised really. After all, the tinsel and trees had been up for at least a fortnight. Talks were taking place to get us all excited for whatever festival fixtures Auckland is about to see - giant advent calendars by the sea, oversized sparkling Christmas trees in Victoria Park, local celebs turning out in force to entertain in another park, and of course Mr "Creepy" Santa perched on the side of Whitcoulls.
But you don't except the soundtrack to kick in quite so soon. It's at least a couple of weeks before all that other stuff starts flashing and shimmering.
Surely there should be a rule that we have to at least wait until this weekend is done and dusted. It is, after all, a marker for yuletide cheer's official okay.
It's Santa Parade time. Dancing girls stand side-by-side with Santa and his helpers as they make their way down the main street of the city.
Every year, thousands and thousands of people line the footpath to catch a glimpse, to get into the mood. I'm usually one of them.
Even though I hate crowds, there is something so charming about all the parade carry-on. It reminds me of my glory days atop a float in the Mt Maunganui version, probably 20 years ago.
For some reason watching floats plod their way down the street as kids scream in excitement and exhaustion is a much nicer way to start off Christmas time than struggling to hear (or ignore) a bad 90s dance mix of a stale Christmas song over crowds of consumers.
Of course if the song had been Fairytale of New York, this might be a different story...
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