Halloween is but a distant memory, what's left of the turkey is in the soup and Christmas is calling my credit card by its first name and slapping it on the back with a hardy laugh.
I can almost hear its cigar-sawn voice (because in my imagination the personified Christmas smokes stogies and has a distinct Bostonian accent) taunting my little plastic friend into coming out from the warmth of my wallet: "Hey, buddy! You really should stretch those legs and staaaht shawppin'."
"Are you kidding?" is my perennial reply. "The poor tired card's been doing nothing but exercising its limits."
It doesn't matter whose advice I take — I've tried shopping in the summer, making lists, checking twice, searching for sales — will power is what I lack.
I remember one Christmas I had checked off everyone on my list by December 1, but about a week before Christmas I had pretty much double (and in some instances triple) checked with sale items.
"Oh, I see," exclaimed my nearest and dearest friend one year as I was frantically trying to get last-minute gifts for all the folks on my list I'd already covered. "You've gone insane."
And it's all because THAT is what the holiday does to me, folks: Drives me bat-guano insane.
This year, I'm fairly certain I have managed to adopt every possible shopping profile that has ever been studied by a plethora of marketing think tanks, not to mention the learned folks in charge of updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The Early Bird: That would be the person who starts shopping for Christmas on December 26th. This person shrewdly figures they will take advantage of the after-holiday sales and who thinks they can remember where they stowed all the Christmasy booty 364 days later. Of course in my case, I will forget where I hid all the stuff, only to find it when I’m wrapping all the replacement gifts on Christmas Eve.
The Vacation Shopper: This person has the same DNA as the Early Bird, only buys gifts for Christmas and other holidays when they’re feeling all warm and fuzzy at resort towns, spending their "mad" money at gloriously posh boutiques. In my case, I'll start wrapping presents a week before the big day and realize no one has any real use for flip-flops that say "MAINE, VACATIONLAND" in December. As a Vacation Shopper I was still out shopping on Christmas Eve.
The Bargain Hunter: OK. No matter how much I’d like to be this person, I know I can't. I just don’t have the will, patience or stamina to weather crowds on Black Friday. I am never going to stand in line overnight to be one of 12 lucky people to acquire a $200 laptop. My brain just tells me the thing will likely implode once plugged into the wall. As a Bargain Hunter I was still out shopping on Christmas Eve.
The Internet Buyer: The polar opposite of The Bargain Hunter. This is the person who makes a conscious decision to buy fewer things at higher prices and pay for shipping. And this, dear readers, is the persona I adopted this year. Let's see how I'm doing, shall we?
I've purchased nothing made in China, which means I have two toys, four books and 130 Christmas cards.
I've purchased nothing under $100, which means I am already above my preset limit. And so far it looks like at least half of my haul is backordered, which means … drum roll, please ... I'll be out shopping on Christmas Eve.