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The Christmas-yard dash

My wife and I did our Christmas shopping over the weekend.

You read that correctly. We didn't start the process, nor did we "get a leg up" on the entire shopping list. We completed ALL of our holiday shopping. And did so in a foreign location called Cincinnati, Ohio.

Allow me to explain....

Two or maybe three times a year, we make a trip to Cincinnati, largely because it's the biggest and best city that's less than two hours away by car. Because my job requires me to travel extensively, I accumulate a large quantity of hotel points, so we use those points for a room at a better hotel chain. And because the hotels are really hurting for leisure business, we don't have to pay out as many points as before, and sometimes get free stuff along with our stay. This particular time we were granted a room on the concierge level, so there were fewer people up there, and were comped our breakfast both days. So our primary cost--lodging--is no longer an issue, and on this occasion, free meals were part of the experience, too! Plus the visits allow us to dine in some restaurants that we don't have here in our hometown of Lexington, KY, so that's fun and interesting, too.

The other thing worth mentioning is that with our daughter and her family living in Colorado, it's necessary to have the process completed somewhere by mid-December so that we can ship their gifts to them in time for Christmas. With her family growing again this year and with the unpredictability of weather and flight schedules over the holidays, we accept that we won't see each other during that period in exchange for the knowledge that no one is stranded somewhere and forced to sleep in an airport terminal.....

But the shopping part is primarily why we go in November or December every year, but even though this is something close to an annual pilgrimage, I don't remember a time in the past when we were this efficient with our time and effort, as we systematically checked off a fairly lengthy list for family and friends. In two instances we saw items that inspired us to place Internet orders due to size and color selection issues, but in the end we visited two malls plus a number of other shopping centers in order to complete the process. We were tired but VERY satisfied with our effort, and now we have eighteen days until Christmas.

The secret? Well, there really isn't one, except it's good to be organized, and you must have a budget, or else the entire process can get away from you in a real hurry!

So I'll accept your congratulations and even your accolades, at least until we realize we forgot someone.....

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