It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

Some of our neighbors have already put up Christmas lights, one house on November 1st. I'll be lucky if I'm not still shopping on the 24th of December, but it's in our nature to wait until the last minute. One thing I've come to rely on is our Christmas Excel spreadsheet. We have all our friends and family listed and what items we have gifted them with along with an approximate price. I think I have spreadsheets for the last three years. It reminds me a bit of a scene from the Sopranos where Carmella is writing the amount of their wedding gift in a special book so that when their daughter Meadow gets married they'll know if she was shorted. Our list isn't designed for tracking what the rest of the world is doing but just reminding us of what we've been doing. We have a lot of friends and it can be hard to keep track of it all just in our heads.

Perhaps this year, we'll give everyone sheep and goats and llamas care of Heifer International. I keep threatening to, but always opt for gifts that can be easily put in boxes with paper and ribbon. Last year, though, the catalog came in the mail and nearly broke my heart. There was a quote from a man saying, "If I die my family will grieve my passing. If our water buffalo dies, my family will starve." Holy crap, someone get this family a water buffalo immediately!

So don't be surprised if this year at least a portion of your gift goes to some foreign country in the form of livestock. And maybe one day I can get organized enough to coordinate a Gift Ark.