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Stuff 'n Nonsense Holiday Hustle Bustle
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Right about now if you haven't finished your Christmas shopping you're a card-carrying member of the Last Minute Club - of which I'm the president.

I've always wanted to be one of those people who purchase Christmas goodies throughout the year for loved ones, tucking them away like industrious squirrels with their winter stores, so that when Christmas season arrives, they're well-prepared and joyfully wrapping their gift items without an ounce of stress.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people.

I'm also not organized, patient, or particularly thrifty.

I want to be all of those things but alas, I wasn't hardwired that way.

So, as Christmas approaches, I'm eyeing the calendar with a mixture of apprehension and excitement, which is a sure-fire recipe for an upset stomach!

Don't get me wrong; I love Christmas. I love the lights, the festive cheer, the all-around good feelings circulating through the populace and I truly love how it tends to bring out the best intentions of people.

Christmas is the time when people "pay it forward" for total strangers whether it's in the simple gesture of buying the person behind them in the coffee line their morning beverage or the grand gesture of adopting a child or family for the holiday.

I've been the recipient of such kindness and I've been fortunate enough to be in a position to help another person. There is nothing more rewarding than giving and knowing your gift was needed and deeply appreciated. There's entirely too much sadness in the world today and I know we all can do more to help our neighbor, whether it's with a simple or grand gesture.

But back to the Last Minute Club.

I thought this year was going to be different. I tried to do some online shopping to lessen the load but I messed up one of the orders (big time!) so I'll have to make a trip to the mall (shudder!) to exchange. I tried setting aside some Christmas cash, which was working fabulously well - and I was quite proud of myself - until my husband's car located those pockets of saved cash and did an excellent impression of a Kirby vacuum until there was nothing left. So Christmas for our household will be a lean one but that's okay because the meaning of Christmas as the Grinch discovered and said so succinctly, "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.

"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Even if there aren't a lot of presents under the tree, what is there was purchased with love and affection, and as I gather with my family around me, I know we're all blessed with riches beyond the monetary for there are people out there who are wealthy yet terribly alone and no amount of money in the world can buy what we have been blessed with in abundance.

And honestly, that's the message I want my children to absorb for this particular holiday, so I'm good with everything, even if it's not what I originally envisioned when the shopping season started.

On Christmas Day, my family will arrive at our house. We'll enjoy breakfast, toast with mimosas, open presents, laugh, and play games, take pictures and make memories to last a lifetime.

And isn't that what it's all about?

I think so.

Here's my Christmas wish to everyone out there - may your Christmas holiday be filled with love, warm hugs, and goodness!

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.