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December 23, 2003

Christmas is, literally, just around the corner, so let me be the most recent to ask this age-old question: Are you really ready?" You may seriously think so, but ponder the matter carefully. Are you?

Here's a checklist of things to do, in case you need it.

In our house, and in a good many others from what I hear, someone is designated or volunteers to provide some kind of bag or box for the collections of wrappings, ribbons, bows, etc., that have become instant trash upon the opening of presents. A very large plastic leaf bag works well for this. Usually, the person responsible for securing the bag is the oldest one or the most persnickety one in the group, because they are the first to holler if a means of collection is not in place. Feel free to assume the role yourself if you wish. Otherwise, youngster will amuse themselves all day long by playing with the scraps of paper and shredding them as the day wears on, pretending all the while that they are having fun.

Be prepared for a family feast that will be the equal of last month's Thanksgiving repast. Becoming prepared may involve a little work, or "exercise," as it is sometimes called. That means you must be physically in shape. A daily 30-minute walk on a regular basis before Christmas is recommended, but if you've been too busy for that you can at least get started right now Plan to take a walk, ride a kid's Christmas bike or do something to work off those extra calories. Go to the local YMCA on the day after Christmas, or as soon as you're able, and shed that extra avoirdupois. (It positively will not go away just by wishing.) Maybe you've, already started on your weight loss program. If so, good for you. If not, start one TOMORROW.

I remember some personal Christmases past when my older sister, Gloria, and I were kids living in a second story apartment over the City Drug Store on the north side of the square. Mother always had a real Christmas tree in the front room, but all the tinsel, lights and other decorations came off after Christmas day, and the tree was turned over to my sister and me to dispose of. It was the time of the Great Depression and we did not receive a lot of toys from Santa Claus. Instead, we had our fun by taking that tree to the top of the stairs leading to the street below and riding it all the way down, like a roller coaster, until most of the limbs were bare. When Mother discovered what we were doing, the fun came to an abrupt end.

Another year I was greatly surprised when my main gift was a brand new Bluebird bicycle. It had balloon tires, a sturdy wire basket attached to the handlebars, and it must have cost at least $30. Then I discovered that the bike was to enable me to make deliveries from the drug store a little faster, and then somehow the pleasure ended.