So it's home for Christmas -- to Mom and Dad and all the Yuletide cheer in the little town where you grew up.

Yes that, but much, much more.

Home for a haircut and repairs on your car. Home to have a tooth filled by the dentist you've known for years.

And home -- at least for one Washington executive -- for a year's supply of the well-dressed man's basic brown and black over-the-calf socks.

Living in a small town, as practically everybody who comes from one knows, is cheaper than here in the big city.

So what some Washington transplats do -- especially those whose hometown is in a state within an easy day's drive -- is to take some of their shopping chores home.

It is, they say, one more way to fight inflation.

One Washington writer schedules an annual dental checkup for his two children when he ships them off to Grandma's house in Ohio for a few weeks during school vacation. "The saving," he says -- particularly for major work such as a capped tooth -- "are staggering."

When he goes himself, he hauls along his shoes and boots to be resoled by the local cobbler. "At $7 per pair, at most," it beats the $20 to $25 he might expect to pay in the city.

A Fairfax County teacher whose parents live on a farm outside of Pittsburgh regularly asks her father to make an appointment to have her car serviced while she's visiting. The cost, she figures, is almost half. She makes it a point, too, to hold off buying tires until she's back on the farm.

A former Californian lugs back a carton of melons -- sweeter and much cheaper -- when he returns from a visit to his parents' home in the melon-rich San Joaquin Valley.

David Osterhout, an executive assistant at the Federal Elections Commission who came to the big city from rural Pennsylvania 13 years ago, is a hometown shopping enthusiast. His tales of big savings, say friends, have convinced them to follow his example.

One place he often heads for when he's back in his hometown of Palmerton is the hardware store -- where, he says, he can find merchandise that isn't sealed in "plastic bubble packs. I can buy one nut that fits, or get one replacement hoozit that he (the owner) knows how to repair."

The economy of Palmerton, on the border between the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the coal-mining region, has long depended on a zinc smelter, but that, says Osterhout, is being phased out. "It's having its consequences."

The town retains many reminders of the European immigrants who settled there. When he's visiting, which is about once a month, Osterhout stocks up on Czechoslovakian "rice sausage -- the only place I know where you can get it." He'll also pick up "some Black Forest ham and Polish sausage from Reichstader's," a German butcher shop and smoke house.

Palmerton, he adds, "is the only place you can still get pretzels by the can."

Some of life's small pleasures, but "good for the budget, too."

Right now Osterhout has a '72 Porsche on which "I've got to have some extensive body work." But it can wait for a trip to Palmerton. Back home, "It's much cheaper."