When we left me last, I was about to mount an assault on the local merchants. The strategy was simple: Attack with overwhelming force, secure the critical targets, get out fast and sustain minimal damage. I was armed with credit cards, a budget and lists. I had maps of sales and schedules of store hours. I had a route that cut mileage. I had elbow pads.
I had not, however, figured on the Salvation Army and the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells -- the banging and the clanging of the bells. By noon they had taken Main Street, the grocery store, the mall, even the Post Office. They guarded every door, dealing earsplitting, nerve-jangling pain to friend and foe alike. Attempts to distract them with pocket change didn't even slow them down. I had no defense. I found no refuge. I ran like a Frenchman. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.
Plan B: Internet stores. God bless 'em, every one. Hunkered down in my bedroom bunker, I could command anything, common or exotic, to appear on my doorstep -- or even better, on the gift-ees' doorsteps, complete with giftwrap. Amazon.com, especially, was totally excellent. Prices were lower than local stores. Shipping was free. Shopped in my jamies. NO bellringers. Next year, this will definitely be Plan A.