Franklin Rd in Ponsonby is a long sloping through-route. In summer the trees arch over the whole road creating a spacious tunnel. I always love driving up this avenue.

 Over the last 19 years, Franklin Rd has gathered a special reputation. First a few people began lighting up their houses for Xmas. Then others joined in, and still others, until the whole street has become a spectacle, with nearly every house being decorated with coloured lights.

 Some of the displays have become more elaborate as the years have passed by,

 or naughtier. This Santa bares his bottom from time to time with a Xmas message.

The verandas, roofs, doorways, fences, and even the palm trees are festooned with lights.

 And as darkness approaches, family groups, couples, old people and young begin the night time promenade up and down both sides of the road. Cars drive by slowly and cameras click wildly. This Santa is lapping up all the attention.

 And The Voice Club gathers at one of the illumined houses, the house of the choir-master. For this is the annual wind-up of a year’s singing in a community choir. Our big end of year concert takes place a week earlier. This year we sang to 250 people and raised between $2-3,000 to help low decile schools with their music.

 So often, because funding is tight, poorer schools have to choose between books and musical instruments. It’s a hard choice, and the books usually win. This year, for two schools, books and music both won. The work of dedicated music teachers will now be supported by the right equipment. One school will have enough money to buy a set of African drums,

 and the other school can buy 25 ukeleles, enabling a whole class to play and sing together.

 Over the five years that I’ve been singing with the Voice Club, we have raised nearly $20,000 for good causes.

 Our music is superb, and people go away from our concerts with big smiles on their faces.

We finish the year by gathering out on the street and singing for the passersby. Our tunes are catchy, with quirky rhythms and fun harmonies. We throw in a few Christmas songs as well. Being a Xmas songbird is the best way to go into the festive season with sparkling eyes and a humming heart. We too were lit up, just like the houses on Franklin Rd.