It can be a strange time of year for visiting Northerners and kids.

Well folks, it's that time of year again! The Christmas season is upon us. Often a confusing time of the year for those visiting the Southern Hemisphere.

An English friend said this to me last week: "It just doesn't feel like Christmas around here. There's no snow or mulled wine or hideous jerseys!"

Nonsense, I replied, we do have those things. We have fake snow coming out of machines. If you look closely you may even notice shopkeepers using spray-on snow for their window displays. We also have an abundance of wine, not just for the mules but for human consumption as well. There's 26 wineries on Waiheke Island alone! As for the hideous jerseys, well they only come on at night or if we're doing a paper-round.

Christmas is summer time here and we love that very much. But that doesn't keep us from being inundated with popular Christmas culture from the other side of the world. All the fantastic songs, books, movies and iPad apps tell us that Christmas includes snow so I've had to explain the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to my 2-year-old.


He's too inquisitive for his own good that boy. When I was his age I was too busy eating crayons to worry about the climate, but hey the world has changed ... and so has the climate!

Shopping malls are heaving right now full of families with excited kids. Questions from my little ones are coming in thick and fast ...

"Why does every shopping mall have its own Santa?"

Hmmm yes, well they're not the real Santa of course. They're hired by the Big Santa to be his 'men on the ground'. There's a tough training school they have to go to you see. It's a bit like the SAS selection process only more 'joy and gift orientated'.

It's held in the North Pole every year. If these men pass the grade, they're sent out to all the malls in the world to represent old Saint Nick.

"Who's Saint Nick?"

Okay, forget I called him that. But these 'Mall Santas' are the best of the best. It's certainly worth waiting hours in a queue to get a photo with them!

"Where do they sleep at night?"

Mall Santas sleep in things called grottos which are essentially kitset hobbit houses. Most of them don't get much sleep though because they're always emailing Big Santa their ever-growing naughty and nice lists.

"Santa is a pretty powerful man, eh dad?"

Yes he is. He's right up there with President Obama. In fact they're both currently discussing the global warming crisis. Santa's worried that it won't be long before the Northern Hemisphere will need fake snow too. Plus there's a theory that this year a Galactic Equinox may occur. All the planets in space will align and this could cause a catastrophic Earth pole shift. But I'm sure that won't happen ... so come on, choose which Lego set you want.