Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
So please put up some ludicrously over-sized decorations
And other stuff like that.
And what it doesn't feel like is Christmas. I realise a large part of the world has Christmas in the middle of summer - that's fine. Way back when it may well have been a pagan ceremony to celebrate midwinter, but ever since baby Jesus came along it's been a December thing, not a winter thing, and it would just be way too complicated to try and divide the world into December Christmas-ers and June Christmas-ers depending on which side of the middle they were. And pointless as well. Honestly, out here we don't need a festival to celebrate surviving another winter - we just need an extra jumper for a couple of weeks.
So here we are with a sweltering Christmas on its way and poor old Santa still has to wear all his winter woolies. When the day actually arrives, it's possible he'll pop down to the beach in his baggies and havaianas and distribute his largesse between games of beach football, but for now the only one I've seen in the flesh is stuck in the shopping centre pretending he's still up in the Arctic, ho ho hoing his way to the air-conditioning unit as often as possible. He does, however, possess his own, reasonably impressive beard.
But what the Brazilians lack in atmosphere they more than make up for in enthusiasm. No sub-tropical heatwave is going to stop them partying like it's minus five, and like a lot of things out here, the better something is going to be, the bigger it needs to be. This is why we have giant Santas all over the place, or giant trees decorated to within an inch of their lives and wedged into shop entrances. I've seen fake presents, fake snow, fake grass, and I've even seen Santa on a bike!
But giant killer Santa and his pack of canine terrorists pale in comparison with the main display inside the shopping centre. Here they've set up an entire railway platform, complete with train, flying sleigh, obligatory giant teddy bear and a huge collection of Christmas-themed figures. But although there are some two dozen figures, there are only three or four characters - the old bearded man, the jolly old lady, the happy children - so the whole thing ends up looking like some terrible failed cloning experiment from Madam Tussaud's.
Sadly, my few photos will not do it justice as it's impossible to capture the whole thing in all its overblown glory. But try and imagine it. One or two of the clones are motorised so they actually wave their hands or turn their heads as you watch and the entire experience is accompanied by a perpetual soundtrack of Bing Crosby and his ilk crooning away in the background.
Update: campaign of complaints cunningly avoided by the timely arrival of two advent calendars. And not from me, I should point out, but from James' friend Christian who acquired them on a recent trip to the UK. So, that's the pre-breakfast chocolate cravings taken care of. Next on the jobs list is to decide where we're actually going to spend Christmas itself; here in town, up in the hills, or down on the beach? Ah, decisions, decisions...