Christmas is a time for traditions and, when kids come along, it’s often time to start new ones. For media personality Megan Papas, this Christmas will be extra special as her son Bastian is about to turn three — a prime age for full-scale festive fun.
“It’s so cool seeing him starting to recognise Santa and he’s just picked up on Christmas music — he loves Jingle Bells,” she says. “He’s starting to realise what presents are and that you can open them. His starting to feel the vibe of Christmas gives it a whole new excitement — it makes Christmas extra-special now he’s realising what it is.”
Megan and husband, musician Andrew, are also parents to daughter Aiya, born in October last year. While Aiya is still a little young to understand what’s going on, Papas is keen to start some new traditions for the children that can be continued as they grow up.
One is kicking off the festive season by getting into the fun at the Farmers Santa Parade, this year to be held on Sunday, November 26, from 1pm.
“I love the Santa Parade and go along every year,” Papas says. “I got to be part of it one year through work, and I remember lining up and seeing all the floats and just being so excited to be part of it. I have always watched it, so it was a massive thrill when I got to be in it and see all the kids and the crowd so excited.”
This year she’s not sure if she’ll be on The Hits float or in the crowd but, either way, she’ll be there, making Christmas memories and creating a new family tradition.
Megan Papas and her family last Christmas. Photo / Supplied
“I’m trying to decide if my son is ready to be on the float but, if he isn’t, we’ll just go along and watch like everyone else. I think he will really get it for the first time this year and just be in awe.”
Papas’s favourite thing in the parade is the man in the red suit himself: “I’ll just be hanging out for Santa. I’m always hanging out for him at the end. And the Farmers Santa is always really legit,” she says. “There are so many smaller parades across the city but the Farmers parade is on another level — it’s so massive and magical.
“Lots of people have been doing it hard this year, especially with the cost of living, so Christmas brings a bit of magic. You can’t help but be excited when you see the Santa Parade.”
The parade, which starts at Mayoral Drive and moves down Queen Street to Customs Street East, was first held 90 years ago, when the floats were horse-drawn. This year’s event will feature perennial favourites like the pirate ship and marching bands but also floats like The Elf on The Shelf, based on the 2005 children’s picture book for children about a ‘scout elf’ who hides in people’s homes to watch over events leading up to Christmas; a Kiwiana combo of dancing food and sheep; and in a nod to this year’s bad run of weather, a hat-tip to the services, fire engines, a rescue helicopter and an ambulance.
There will be pre-parade entertainment from 12pm and a free ‘after party’ hosted by Jono and Ben from The Hits in Aotea Square from 2.30pm.
Papas says she and Andrew are both “Christmas fanatics”, who already have a few other traditions they enjoy in the build-up to the big day. There’s strawberry picking, wearing matching Christmas pyjamas, and decorating their eight-foot-high tinsel tree with as many ornaments as they can (“I have to hold myself back from buying more from Farmers and putting them on the tree,” she says).
Another, more reflective tradition is of writing an annual note to themselves, to be opened and read when the tree is put up and decorated for another season.
“Since 2015, Andrew and I have written a note to ourselves each year when we pack away the tree in January, where we reflect on our goals for the year. When we open up the tree to put it up the next Christmas, we open that note to ourselves,” she says.
“It’s amazing to read them and see how things have turned out. We have kept them all together, and we read them all each year and see where we’ve come from and what has changed.
“It’s quite interesting to read about the covid years, but also our hopes and dreams of having a baby, because of course now we’ve got two. It’s a really cool tradition, and I look forward to it
This article is sponsored by Farmers Santa Parade
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