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I’m feeling the pressure of Christmas shopping the closer it gets to the big day.

My family, the Smiths, are having Christmas before the holiday, so I don’t have much time. I’m a year-round shopper, so I have bags of things shoved in the back of my closet, but it’s not done.

My family has a tendency to overdo Christmas, despite my mother’s declaration as we bring in the piles of presents: “This is a sin. Y’all do too much.”

Once in a while, she tries a little gimmick: “This year, I’m buying everyone one thing they want, one thing they need and something to read.” She stuck with it pretty well, but nobody else played by that rule.

My husband, years ago, mentioned making a budget for Christmas spending, and the echoes of my laughter are still reverberating in space.

We do not argue this time of year — because he’s given up — but I’m sure some couples do.

It makes me think about a woman I saw at a Christmas open house one year, her eyes wild as she filled a box with huge expensive ornaments. She was saying, to no one in particular, “I’ll just leave them in the trunk. Or, I’ll put them with my other decorations and tell him I bought them last year. He’ll never notice. Oh, I know. I’ll tell him I got them … ON SALE.” She was laughing maniacally the last time I saw her, having come up with a good explanation for her husband.

I do love a good sale, and I shopped online for a few Black Friday deals — but I did not leave my house to be crushed with the masses to get a limited-edition snow-globe doorbuster.

This year, I have started doing something disturbing — sleep shopping. I woke up at 3 a.m. the other morning, as I so often do, but I found myself in a daze in front of the computer. I first scoured my email because my sister-in-law sends out lists for her little boys and herself via email. It is first-come, first-served, like concert tickets.

This year, by the time I got home from work and checked my email, many items had already been claimed, although I still got to get a sweet Lego set for one of the boys (the relatives are respectful not to take everything on the list!)

Some people turn up their noses at a list, but it saves a lot of returns — for the most part. We have people in my family who are specific about what they want, and you should STICK TO THE LIST. My husband isn’t picky, but he usually writes his few pitiful items on a piece of paper that shows up hanging on the refrigerator. This year’s exciting list includes a reversible brown/black belt and navy pants. Woo-hoo!

In the wee morning hours, I found myself on Amazon and other websites I’d never heard of looking for unique gifts and randomly ordering. In my trancelike state, I thought my brother needed Frozen pajamas? And my husband could use nose-hair trimmers?

Really, it will be as big a surprise to me as it would be to the FedEx delivery guy what I’ve ordered. I’m pretty sure Oprah’s Favorite Things are all arriving at my door at some point, but there will be plenty for everyone.

I’ll switch from shopping stress to paying-bills stress in January.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-5671 or


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