For the kids Christmas is pretty well toy time.

For teenagers and adults it's more "I wonder what this is?" time when the wrapped gifts are handed out.

And it is also a time for something a bit special, and extra, on the plate.

Maybe a nice salad and barbecue outside if the weather plays ball or maybe a traditional turkey ... which always leaves me smiling as I begin humming Elton John's Christmas song Who'd Be a Turkey at Christmas.

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It is a festive season.

But the community landscape out there is not an even one, and there are many people, individuals and families of all ages, who basically struggle to try and find the festive spark.

So this is where the sparkling spirit of Christmas emerges.

The agencies and the church groups and the social services, and the businesses and schools and the general populace ... they emerge as one, which we see every year as the annual Christmas Cheer Appeal, a firm part of Hawke's Bay Today's community devotion, sparks into life, as it has again today.

My first taste of Christmas Cheer was back in the Christmas of 84 when I was with the Daily Telegraph, where it was pretty well kicked off.

It was relatively small fry, but within five or so years the main passageway of the grand old Tennyson St building would annually block up, and the small cheer crew of that time had to make daily visits to clear gifts and piles of cans, boxes and biscuits and what seemed like four million teddy bears.

It was enthusiastically embraced by the community and today, more than 30 years down the track, it still is.

This is all about the community helping out the community.

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Those who are able to pass on a few dollars or donate a gift or two to those who would otherwise find Christmas anything but a festive time.

It's tough for a lot of people out there and since sparking up three and a bit decades back the annual appeal has created a lot of smiles and joy at this very special time of the year.

So many people give gifts and cash, and so many people give their time to sort and pack the more than 1000 parcels which are put together.

It is cheer all round.