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Hunting season is open.

I’m not talking about deer season, or Saturday’s opening of duck season, which my older son has been preparing for since the day it ended last year.

It’s the shopping season.

Actually, that’s a year-round sport for me, but as the drumstick beat of Thanksgiving gets louder, I’m feeling more pressure to bag the goods.

Even though I’m a marathon shopper, I don’t follow the herd and go Black Friday shopping. I’m not willing to risk being trampled for a door buster.

I have a Rubbermaid tub in my closet where I stash gifts all year. It’s really not big enough to hold everything, but it gets me started.

When family members mention during the year an item they’d like to have, I immediately go buy it. Or at least, I put it on the running list I keep on my phone. I used to keep these lists in a notebook, but my phone is always with me. And if I need help, I can show a picture of what I’m looking for to a sales clerk.

I have to make sure I put the recipients’ names on my lists so I don’t get confused. My 47-year-old brother’s Christmas wishes are often hard to differentiate from his 6-year-old son’s. This year, for example, my brother’s list includes a Star Wars shirt, a Harry Potter book and video games.

Buying Christmas presents has been complicated in my family by the fact that my dad and sister-in-law share a December birthday. My dad is impossible to buy for anyway, because he says he has everything he needs. Last year, he literally asked for socks.

The hounding has begun to get gift ideas from everyone. My 24-year-old son asked me yesterday what I want for Christmas. For my birthday, I told him chocolate, and he bought me a big box of chocolates made in Kentucky, where he lives. Chocolate is always a great gift for me.

My husband’s preferred method is to post his Christmas list on our refrigerator. Right now, he has one item on it.

The annual releasing of my sister-in-law’s list for her, my brother and their two sons is like the race at the start of the White House Easter Egg Roll. Whoever claims an item off the list gets it. If you’re not one of the first people to see the email, tough tinsel. You will be left to buy batteries, gift cards or — worse in the eyes of a 2-year-old and 6-year-old — clothes.

A wonderful addition to the merry mix this year will be my almost 6-month-old granddaughter. It’s hard to know what to buy a baby, but I will make a prediction — she’ll love the box and wrapping the best.

My mother used to be easy to buy for, but she isn’t anymore. She worries about how much we spend, so she won’t always tell us what she really wants; she just doles out ideas based on what she thinks we can afford.

But because of our family’s schedule this year, we’re not celebrating Christmas with my side until the last weekend of December.

You know what that means. I can shop the after-Christmas sales for gifts.

Oh, yeah. Bargain hunting is my specialty.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

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