I’m getting ready for Christmas in my traditional fashion, by panicking as I sit in my cubicle at the office.

My list of things to do is mostly unchecked.

Remove ashes from fireplace so Santa won’t get covered in ash? Undone. Leave out food for his 7 dwarves? Undone. Hang the stockings from the shower curtain rod? Undone. Brine the squirrel? Undone. Scramble the eggnog? Undone. Carve the pumpkin into a scary face and leave it on the porch with a candle inside next to a bowl of candy for the kids if they come by this year? Undone. Check the dumpster behind Safeway in case there’s some perfectly good produce that could be re-gifted as it were? Undone.

So I’m behind, as always, but will try to rally and do some last-minute shopping, which for me is more like last-minute buying — a drone strike with the credit card, often within 30 seconds of entering a store. I’ve got a trained eye. “Sale” always gets my attention. Quick on the draw as the wallet comes out. (You know they’ll return it and get something else, but remember, it’s the thought that counts!)

Mental note: Bring out figgy pudding. [And make sure it’s sufficiently figgy.]

When I was a kid we really did go out in the woods and cut down a little green Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree. Usually a little pine. It would have about 3 branches. So maybe those trees weren’t thick, lush Balsam Firs like the ones that get trucked down from Maine or Newfoundland, and perhaps we didn’t have an overwhelming number of lights, but still it was a very sincere and festive display and not nearly as grim and Dickensian as it seems in this present description. We had some lean years, and when my Mom was single she wondered how she’d buy any presents at all, but the happy memories predominate and there is no greater gift in the world than being able to wake up just about every day feeling optimistic.

But now I see myself on the verge of sliding down the rabbit hole of nostalgia and sentimentality, and guess what — there’s last-minute buying to do!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!