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10 minutes. You and your keyboard (or smartphone. Or tablet. Or pen and paper). No pauses, no edits, no looking back: it’s free-write time!

Our days are still sunny, if not as warm as they were a month ago. Needing man time at Home Depot my husband went out the other day to buy some gardening stuff, and came home all upset because Christmas products were on display already. Kids haven’t even gone trick-or-treating yet, and holiday merchandise is in the stores.

I know some people like to get a jump on the Christmas shopping, but can’t we at least get through October before Muzak starts playing carols as Christmas draws near? The holiday has become such a merchandizing event, that by the time Christmas has arrived, I feel like I’ll scream if I hear another Christmas tune. Where is the joy in singing Christmas carols when they’ve been pumped into public spaces for two months! Since when did heartfelt gifts become fulfilling someone’s list, or they’ll resent you? And by the way, there is more to Christmas than shopping; the fact that it’s a religious holiday often gets buried under the boxes and wrapping paper.

Thanksgiving day has morphed from an at-home family get-together to a barrage of ads between football games, and a special edition of the newspapers stuffed with advertising brochures. Instead of enjoying each other’s company, perusing ads has taken the place of calm and companionship. And nibbling on turkey and pies.

Now stores are even open on Thanksgiving day until midnight — and throngs of people leave hearth and home to get the most coveted gifts of the season.

I’m good at blocking out things — like ads on radio and TV — and I do that with great purpose with Christmas ads until December arrives. I remember, though, the pressure of getting young children the gifts they’ve been dreaming of for a couple of months. I’m glad that pressure is off now. I’ve gone back to trying to find gifts that surprise and hopefully are welcomed by the recipients.

I like Christmas, but on my terms, not Target’s, or Macy’s, or Walmart’s, or any other merchandiser, including Home Depot.