It all began one rather mundane Tuesday.
I hurried into Countdown, distracted and unsuspecting, on the hunt for mandarins and lip balm when I saw it out the corner of my eye.
A flash of red and green, well within parent-torturing distance of the checkout. A
giant scarlet display, jammed in between the Halloween masks and the magazines, packed to brimming with ...
Advent calendars. In the first week of October.
I could almost hear the tap-tap of Rudolph's hooves in my ear. That and the outraged grumbling of the Grinches.
Christmas in October! Disgraceful consumerism gone mad. Festive Grumpy Cat memes filled my mental newsfeed as I stood rooted to the spot, gazing at the first marker of the season so many love to hate.
Every year, without fail, the shops insist on kick-starting Christmas a few months early.
It may well be the season to be jolly, but 'tis also the season to make money. Lots of it.
For as long a period as consumers can possibly endure without walking out in disgust.
Like death and taxes, it's one of life's inevitabilities.
As a child of the recession, I'm not usually given to spending sprees, but Christmas is my yearly downfall.
The marketers have no problem reining me in, and it costs me deerly. I've already bought myself a Christmas organiser, and it took all of my willpower not to peruse the array of advent calendars on offer.
I may be 27, but a daily chocolate treat behind a little cardboard window sounds like a sweet deal at any age.
If you haven't already gathered, I'm one of those people. Christmas music starts blaring in September in my house, and the tree is up by the end of October.
I blame my upbringing as the child of hoteliers. Hotels are nearly as bad as shops.
Every Labour Weekend of my childhood was spent clambering up into the roof with Dad to pull down the Christmas decorations that would adorn the hotel until New Year's Eve.
I thought it was magical then, and I've yet to grow out of it.
It drives my family crackers. We've decided that we're going to spend Christmas in Mt Maunganui this year, instead of at my parents' house, and my cousins (aged nearly-11 and 13) - clearly fearing a meltdown - told me all the way back in August that I can still make as many Christmas Day lists as I'd like.
I could almost hear the tap-tap of Rudolph's hooves in my ear. That and the outraged grumbling of the Grinches. Christmas in October!
Which is lucky, as I really don't know how one could make it through Christmas Day without a precisely-timed cooking schedule, an expertly curated Christmas carols playlist and an order of events for the whole occasion.
Some would call it obsessive behaviour. I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'm not entirely ignorant of the fact that Christmas is one of those holidays that drive people round the bend.
Especially when it comes early. But in defence of Christmas in October (or, if you're me, September) surely there's something to be said for a holiday wholly dedicated to giving and joy.
Yes, that's right, Christmas-haters. That holiday you abhor so much; it is supposed to be a celebration of peace, love, gratitude, thanksgiving, happiness and togetherness.
What's so terrible about wanting to stretch out the tidings of great joy for a few months longer?
You there with the "for every Christmas tree put up before December, an elf kills a reindeer" post on Facebook. Would it really kill you to give in to Christmas spirit for a few months of the year?
It's not just Christmas. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, and the many other holidays of various faiths and cultures are generally celebratory in nature, though I'm sure each inspires its own batch of grumps.
Christmas really seems to take the fruitcake though, as anyone with a social media account can testify.
While I've become adept over the years at blocking out the anti-Christmas militia and their quest to rain on my Santa parade, there is one dark cloud I can't ignore.
Christmastime consumerism seems particularly vulgar this year, when headlines about homelessness and poverty have dominated the annual news cycle.
I'm very aware that my longstanding love affair with Christmas is a privileged one, and it breaks my heart thinking of those children particularly whose addresses won't be on Santa's list.
And those families who won't have an address at all this Christmas Eve.
While I really don't mean to hark my own herald, it seems to me that October is a great time to start thinking about the spirit of Christmas - which at its core is really just the spirit of generosity, kindness and love dressed up in a red velvet suit and a fake beard, or woven into the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
It's the perfect time to think about which organisations to donate to, or how we can otherwise help out in our communities.
It's also an opportune moment to start blasting Mariah Carey, drinking gingerbread lattes and wearing novelty earrings. In my humble opinion, that is.
Because one thing's for sure: there's a giant wave of tinsel and mince pies coming our way. If you can't beat it, you may as well join it.