This is that busy time of year, isn't it.
[Insert mental vision, something that would be an appropriate scene in It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, evening on a snowy Main Street, decorated for the holiday, bustling throngs of shoppers.]
Actually, I do live in a town that has a Main Street and we did have several inches of snow and a few days later it was washed away, but this Monday we got an inch or so, just enought to cover lawns... and Main Street is decorated for the holiday... no bustling throngs of shoppers. There are shoppers, but the bustling throngs that you might have seen "downtown" a generation or two ago are found in shopping centers these days.
Last year I did most of my shopping online. I sort of had to do that because I had no time for shopping, especially since I was out of the country for two weeks in December... so almost every day while I was in France, a UPS driver or FedEx or our postal letter carrier would be placing a package on our front porch.
I thought this year would be easier, that I would carefully shop during November and I would have things completely under control and my shopping would be mostly complete by Thanksgiving.
Okay, so I might not be quite as foolish as our Red Sox fans who each spring believe that this will be the year that Boston goes all the way... but I was quite foolish to imagine such a thing. I was busy all during the summer and into the fall... Halloween week in Dallas... busy, busy, busy through November (I had a very good Thanksgiving break, but I didn't get any Christmas shopping done) and totally busy since then. (My time sheet for the week ending this past Friday showed sixty-six and a half hours.... uh, no, I don't get paid overtime...so you can probably see why I've had a big gap between entries this month.)
So I've once again done the bulk of my shopping online. Okay... actually I've done all of my shopping online... but I do need to stop in at Staples to buy some blank CDs and at a particular store to get a piece of jewelry, so that will be a little bit done in person. (Oh, wait a minute, I bought Sean two shirts... from LandsEnd... I called their 800 number one night from my hotel room in Dallas... okay, so that wasn't exactly shopping on Main Street either.)
Sean has been having a marvelous time with the online tracking that you can do with things ordered online. He knows what his big present is... an amp/tuner/home theatre setup he picked out that Nancy and I and his sister are getting for him. I ordered it the other night from Buy.com and he has been tracking its movements across the country. Other than that, I think all of my purchases have been from Amazon.com (although I know Nancy has been very busy at Kohls.com)
Please don't think I've abandoned Main Street. I believe in supporting local merchants when I can (and even local outlets of national chains 'cause at least they're employing local people) but there really isn't that much here to choose from in buying gifts for my family. Main Street tends to have a lot of antique shops, restaurants, etc., but not a men's clothing store or a general purpose book store or a large electronics store... those kinds of places are found in the shopping malls... and I would do anything to avoid going anywhere near those kinds of places in December... the gridlocked traffic alone is reason enough to stay away. There is a car dealership on Main Street but although a car is on Sean's wish list, needless to say he will not be finding a car with his name on it in our driveway or under our tree (unless maybe I find a toy car).
At least (other than those blank CDs and that jewelry... and maybe a few trinkets for stockings) my shopping is complete (now its just a question of shipping, not shopping). Not only that, but I actually wrote and addressed my Christmas cards tonight. During the summer I kept thinking about putting together a collection of photographs and burning CDs so I could enclose CD with my cards, sort of a visual alternative to a Christmas letter... but the mere fact of doing Christmas cards with only a week left (instead of doing them two or three weeks ago) probably indicated how that photo CD remains just an idea. Ah well, perhaps next year.
My brother had an operation this morning and I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow so Jennifer and I can drive over to pay him a brief visit.