It’s not Christmas Day you look forward to, but all the work you’ll do to get ready for the big day, and all the gifts you’ll buy to wrap in colorful paper and pretty bows. Then you can sit on the couch and enjoy it while you wait for the credit card bills to pour in.

“Can you believe these store hours?” I ask Spouser. “They’re opening at 4 a.m.!”

“It’s the time of year the stores wait for all year long,” he replies. “I don’t feel sorry for them. The ones working at least have a job.”

I won’t tell him so, but I do feel sorry for the store employees and what they have to put up with. Actually, I feel sorry for the shoppers, too. We risk life and limb, and are like salmon during spawning season, all fighting the current to the malls to participate in the traditional and highly competitive Bargain Busters sales.

We scramble through stores in the company of packs of other holiday shoppers, slashing the air with sharpened Master Cards, looking for the one remaining department store clerk (who we’ll never find because he or she will be huddled in the fetal position in some dressing room, murmuring, “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle bells…”.

The holiday spirit is in full swing, and the loudspeakers are sputtering all our favorite holiday tunes. In cosmetic sections of department stores, women wearing frightening quantities of makeup lunge out from behind pillars and spray passersby with fragrances with names like Juicy Couture’s Viva la Juice.

Women, pushing strollers, are banished to the mall with their ranting, raving kids so that their husbands can watch football in peace.

So, yes, I feel sorry for the gals, but it’s really the guys I pity. All around, wide-eyed guys make their way through the crowds like lost puppies let out of the dog house, sent on a mission to shop for gifts that are “thoughtful and appropriate” and will keep everyone on their Christmas list happy.

“Don’t you get it, guys? You haven’t got a chance! Gift certificates are the answer. But, then again, maybe not,” I mutter to a group of men passing by. They can’t hear me over the roar of the crowd.

And it always amazes me how some well-organized shoppers will go to dozens of stores looking for the BEST bargains. These savvy bargain hunters are easy to spot because they’re usually Winter Texans or menopausal women fanning themselves furiously with discount circulars. I know — we’re all on a tight budget.

After spending the days fighting the crowds and battling traffic, I always return home frazzled and frayed, ready to chase down leftover turkey sandwiches with Aunt Foy’s rum cake and a cup of vodka-spiked eggnog.

Open the windows, folks! Let that cool Christmas air in. The holidays are here again!

Merry Christmas!

Gina Tiano is the author of Life in the Bike Lane, available at Amazon.com. Post your comments on our website, valleytowncrier. com under the columnists tab.