Frosty the Snowman has melted, Santa’s wearing shorts and Rudolph’s nose is only red because it’s sunburnt.
It’s Christmas time in New Zealand, where it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas sweaters will see no Yuletide joy here, Turkey dinners will be relatively few and far between and snow is about as likely as a jolly fat man delivering presents to all the good little boys and girls of the world.
Instead of chestnuts and mulled wine there will be barbecues and copious amounts of ice-cold beer and instead of a white Christmas it will be a distinctly golden one.
The ice-cream man’s van will chime out like the bells of old Bethlehem and the children of New Zealand will unwrap their presents and tire of them before their counterparts in the United Kingdom even get a chance.
Most Christmas dinners will be cooked on the barbecue and will consist of steak and sausages, salad and seafood, perhaps a Christmas ham, followed by Christmas pudding, pavlova and more beer, wine and champagne.
The beaches of New Zealand will be crowded – well, as crowded as anything ever gets in a country of just four million people – and the cheers of Kiwis playing cricket will ring out through the air.
Weather permitting, of course, this is the idealised Kiwi Christmas.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world the boys and girls of the United Kingdom sleep, no doubt dreaming of the festivities to come when they wake up on 25 December. It’s a day spent largely indoors, snug and sheltered unless this is the year it finally snows on Christmas Day in London.
But the build up to Christmas is arguably the best part of Christmas in the United Kingdom – and in Europe in general – with Christmas markets springing up across the country and the cold nip in the air necessitating the consumption of copious amounts of mulled wine.
The Turkey dinner is perfect for the clime, as are the Christmas carols and movies shown all day on the telly.
There will be just as much drinking involved, of course, as some brave souls – including lots of Kiwis and Aussies living in South London – will venture out to the handful of pubs that choose to remain open on the holiday.
The Queen’s Royal Message will be the subject of some conversation, debate and dissension, as will the board games you play on Christmas Day in the UK.
At least that was my experience, living and working in London for more than four years.
So which is better – a cold, wintery Christmas in London (or New York or anywhere else for that matter) or a hot, summery Christmas in New Zealand or Australia?
In a perfect world I’d have a bit of both. I’d travel to the UK for the build up, ice skating in London, visiting Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and enjoying the lights – if not the crowds – on both Oxford and Regent Streets.
And then I’d be back in NZ in time for Christmas Day, ready to swim at the beach, barbecue and party on until New Year’s Eve. Now that would be the perfect Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone!