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It's Christmas time in the city, ring-a-ling and hear them sing.

The three clever tane and their sugar-sack full of toanga are well on their way - according to recent sightings up on the Kaimai and Mamaku Ranges - and due to show up some time around The Night Before Christmas show this Sunday night down at Kura o Peterehema – Bethlehem College.

Now that's a cool address to be meeting with the big whero fulla with the big puku huh?

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There were unconfirmed sightings of a bottom-up Santa disappearing down the Trinity Hotel chimney down on Dive Cres, however, on further investigation, it was Hori Bop doing Donald Duck dives to celebrate the council's decision to greenlight a feasibility study for a purpose-built stadium up at the Tauranga Domain.

Many of us tautoko (support) a stadium given the success of many music and sporting events held up at the Domain, none more so I imagine than the One Love festival about to kick off in a couple of weeks. Ko Tahi Aroha – One Love brings in many millions into the Christmas stockings of local ratepaying residents as well as giving our tamariki a safe setting to celebrate the birthday of Bob Marley whose music personifies peace love and happiness, like Hanakoko ( Santa ) himself.

Another early present besides the big fulla getting a helping shoe-horn down the Dive Cres chimney and the green light for his BroBop Stadium study is another great greenlight from the council supporting a women's shelter to be called Awhina House.

What a cool kaupapa (cause). This is what Christmas is all about when it comes to serving the needs of the lost and lonely. Having worked with these group of gifted wahine who are driving this kaupapa - and sharing the content of their korero, it is comforting to know our elected leaders can come together when a homeless crisis is as close as Christmas for many mums, daughters aunties and sometimes nannies who have nowhere to shelter from life's storms.

It seems to be the season of storms on both sides of the ditch where we are on the central coast visiting a family friend, who is seriously ill in hospital, while just down the road on a beautiful beach his sister celebrates her big day by marrying the man she loves. The ying and yang of good times and bad - both happy and will stand side by side as a reminder of why we must make every effort to understand - and appreciate, what matters most on this journey through life.

Like the sign says in front of the little drummer boys down on 37 Marine Parade: "Christmas is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things".

Just like Christmas, what matters most at a wedding or a women's shelter is not what the wise men show up with or what the big fat fella has in his or her sugar bag, but the gift we treasure most comes wrapped in whanau aroha and can only be given unconditionally without any expectation of anything in return.

For some, Christmas has come early while for others it does not come at all other than a free feed at one of the many kind and caring church groups who put on a Kai Aroha.

Kai and korero are for many what Christmas is all about. Kai and korero around the family table where we engage in each other's dreams, desires, struggles and celebrations. Food, glorious food served by Santa's little - and not so little - helpers with happy puku, never to be subbed-off by computer screens or dial a delivery.

So stand by for Santa whanau, he or she is on the radar. They could be dressed in a red leather set of bottom-covering shorts or a colourful korowai with no reference to Saint Nick at all.

One thing is for sure: we sure need a little more cheer this year than Yuletides gone by.

Grab the kids and throw on a ridiculous set of reindeer ears. Tune up the voicebox, load up the waka and head down to the Night before Christmas down in Peterehema

Look for every excuse to laugh at life and sing with strangers and while you are banging your drum and having a sing - with a ring-a-ring-ling, keep an eye out for the Three Wise Men and their Hori Bop mate. Chances are you will find them having a kai and korero outside the Happy Puku Van to the right of the stage in a town called Bethlehem.

Joy to the world whanau

Meri Kirimete

broblack@xtra.co.nz

Tommy Kapai Wilson is a local writer and best-selling author. He first started working for the Bay of Plenty Times as a paperboy in 1966 and has been a columnist for 15 years. He is currently the executive director of Te Tuinga Whānau, a social service agency committed to the needs of our community.