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christmas shoppingBetween now and the end of the year our house is going to be a mad dash for the stores in preparation for Christmas.

This time of the year, I lay low and try to be as invisible as possible. If I hide in the shadows of the parsonage and do not speak, I am in pretty good shape. I have been practicing this for over 40 years, so I have reached a certain level of proficiency.

Having a wife and two daughters has been a challenge, especially at this time of the year. My son and I have survived and so I am sure I will make it through another year. However, I am not taking anything for granted.

I am somewhat of a competitive person, in some degree. I like a good challenge and I certainly like to win. Going up against the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has not been a successful competition. Even when she loses, so to speak, she wins. When she wins, I also win, so why should I complain?

The contest at this time of the year is to see how much money these ladies of the parsonage can save. I have not kept track over the years for obvious reasons, so I do not know who is ahead and who is behind.

I would not say that they were Shopaholics, but I am pretty sure they are. From my point of view, I am in no position to challenge them on this serious addiction. To challenge them thusly, would require several weeks in a rehabilitation center for myself. Who wants to go there during the holidays?

I try not to keep track, but I believe it all begins with what is called “Black Friday.” I am not sure why it is called “Black Friday” because after it is all over my checkbook is in deep red.

On this audacious holiday, if it can be called a holiday, I keep out of their way.

They will start early in the morning and throughout the day they will come home to unload and boast to me about how much money they saved. Then, off they go back on the shopping trail. For my part, I would never want to stand between them and their shopping destination because, I just have grown accustomed to living.

Although I am not much into shopping, I know when to shop and when not to shop. The purpose of my shopping is not to see how much I can save. If I want to save money, I will stay home and drink a nice hot cup of coffee.

Halfway through the shopping season, my wife and I were sitting in the living room drinking our evening coffee and she was explaining to me her shopping plan. The more she talked the less I understood. I did not know you needed a plan to go shopping. My plan is very simple, do not go shopping!

I happen to notice that one of our spare bedrooms was getting rather full of her shopping items. I just walked by the bedroom, glanced in and quickly walked down the hall as far away as possible. If there is one thing I do not want to do around this time of year, it is wrapping Christmas presents.

One year I was enticed into wrapping Christmas presents, I did such a bad job, I was never invited to do it again. I will not say in public that I did that on purpose. I just will say, I love it when a plan comes together.

As we were relaxing in the living room, my wife began explaining how much money she saved this year in shopping. I listened for as long as I could. I do not know how much she saved, just what she told me. It is almost like a contest with her to see how much money she can save each year.

The biggest challenge is to try to out save her two daughters. They have been taught by the best and yet I am not sure they have ever beaten her in this one contest.

When there was a little lull in the conversation, I sneaked a the little question of my own.

“How much,” I queried as seriously as possible, “have you saved so far in your shopping?”

I thought it was rather an innocent question to present at the time.

“How much,” she said with a very serious look, “I saved over $300 so far.” With that, she set back in her chair and smiled. $300 is a lot of money you have to admit.

Then I pop this one, “How much have you spent so far?”

After some thought and a quick look into her checkbook, she came up with the figure, $700.

She informed me that her savings were almost half of what she spent.

There was a moment when I was tempted to challenge this contest by saying, “Well, I saved $700 by not shopping.”

On second thought, would it be worth it? Sometimes it is better to concede and have everybody happy, than to win and be the only one that is happy.

Solomon understood this when he wrote, “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11).

My goal in life, particularly as a husband, is to be a wise man.

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