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Wow!  Most years, I don't even begin to think about Christmas gifts until sometime after Thanksgiving.  But I'm actually almost finished already!  I have a stack of gifts waiting to be wrapped for Dad and Lyn, a large combo gift for Keith & Marilyn, and even a stocking stuffer for Spencer.  Indeed, the only gifts I still need to purchase are for my nephew.  (I probably won't be sent his wish list for at least another month).

Now comes my least favorite part:  wrapping the presents and packaging them up so I can ship them.  If I'd been thinking, I'd at least had M&K's big box sent to their home rather than mine.  I'm sure if I go over to Wal-Mart or Target tomorrow, I'll find a large selection of wrapping paper already.  It will be nice to have it all done and not worry about shopping, etc. at the last second.

I actually got the inspiration for most of this year's presents while I was in Kansas City at the end of last month for Bryan & Melissa's wedding.  A few things that I saw in Dad's office gave me some ideas for what I would buy for him.  And I actually found the "perfect" gift for Marilyn while purusing the SkyMall catalog on the flight home (although I enjoy flipping through those catalogs, I had never purchased anything from them before because I think most of the stuff is overpriced).  I had to turn this last gift into a "combo" present because of Marilyn's price limit she imposed on holiday spending this year (but I may buy a few more "stocking stuffers" as well).

When I attended the Balloon Fiesta earlier this year, I kept my eyes open for other things I could give various family members.  Overall, I was rather disappointed with what I saw out there; perhaps it was because I went on the next-to-last day and many vendors had depleted stock.  I did find something rather nice (and fun) for Lyn, however.

Since I'm going to be out-of-town on both my birthday and on Christmas (and New Year's) this year, I don't know what I'm going to do about any gifts that are sent to me.  Last year, I tried to explain that I didn't want ANY gifts since it's no fun to open them alone.  Marilyn became very angry with my reasoning so I recanted that request.

I do still think it doesn't mean much to open presents alone (even over the phone it's difficult to share the occasion); it's much more fun to celebrate the holiday when among family where you're able to watch everyone's expressions as they receive their gifts.  And, as I get older, I find that I don't really need or want anything; if there is something I would like to have, I end up buying it myself (I think it's much more satisfying that way as it's a sense of accomplishment or reward for successfully budgeting or saving up for that special item).  All I really want to receive is the caring and support of my family no matter what I decided I would like to do.  And I pretty much have that already anyway.

Since Dad & Lyn are planning to visit Albuquerque sometime in late January or early February, perhaps I could save the wrappped December gifts until then and open them in their presence.  What fun that would be!

My gift to myself this year is my late December/early January journey.  I'm really looking forward to phoning my family sometime on Christmas day from a beach chair under a palm tree and revealing my location!  (I just have to make sure that I get the time difference straight and don't end up calling in the middle of the night!).

I just can't believe that Christmas day is just two months from Tuesday!  How time flies...