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I did my part for America and fueled the economy, with ardent fervor, on Black Friday. I don’t know about you, but I like to start my Christmas shopping early in the morning, say around 5 a.m. The lines are small, the shelves full and the cashier can probably count to 11 without taking his shoes off.

I was determined to get up early, buy some cool stuff at sale prices, check many items off my list quickly, and be home before Kim could take command of the remote control.

Energized by a delusional conviction that this plan was unique, I scoured the store flyers, carefully selecting gifts that met exacting discount standards (actually, I don’t look at prices at all but it makes me feel like I’m a real shopper to have people think so). Then, I mentally composed a strategy that would efficiently place me at the right store just as it opened no doubt the only person in line at that raw hour.

I began to suspect some flaw in my plans when Best Buy’s closest parking spot turned out to be in the Chili’s lot across the street. Undeterred by this surprising setback, I burst into the store and nearly sprinted to the Xbox 360 video game section. There was exactly one box of Rock Band remaining in its display and I grabbed it with both elbows out, like Kevin Garnet retrieving a late-game rebound. With demented glee, I mentally checked this item off my list and loaded it into the truck.

Only in closing the tailgate did I notice that the package read “PlayStation 3.” Looking around at the traffic jam building up at the mall, I decided not to go back but to push on down my list this time more attentive to the labels.

Dick’s was a short walk away, but the trip was a harrowing obstacle course of impatient drivers, shoppers pushing carriages chock-full of unwieldy packages, and pedestrians with their heads down examining store flyers. This is where I expected to find gifts for the four teenage boys I call my “nephews” and Kim refers to as “the animals.”

Up and down the aisles I went, grabbing dart guns, footballs and basketballs that appeared sturdy enough to survive Christmas morning. I also snagged a few commemorative Red Sox Championship T-shirts for my two other nephews, who live in New York.

Satisfied that I’d sufficiently endangered my brother’s neighborhood, I sheepishly returned home by 8 with my pitiful cache of presents.

Then it dawned on me: I have to wrap all this stuff. What was I thinking?

You can, of course, generally determine which gender has wrapped the boxes. Women go for presentation, while we guys go for speed. You ladies will take 20 minutes or so to decorate a package that will be taut, taped and gloriously festooned with ribbons. In about 90 seconds I can construct a gift-wrap that looks about as neat as Rosie O’Donnell in bike pants. As a result, I tend to secure my packages with so much tape you’d think they contained state secrets.

Also, women can find a way to match wrapping paper remnants with small gifts, leaving very little telltale debris. When I’m finished, you’d think the Patriots had won the Superbowl in my bedroom.

Well, I hope everyone enjoys all that wassailing (what the heck is that, anyway?). And as a recent transplant from New Hampshire, I’ll sign off with our traditional Granite State holiday greeting: “Merry Christmas or Die!”

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