Have you noticed how the media reports on shopping these days, giving estimates of how much money people will spend the day after Thanksgiving, or during the entire holiday season, etc.?

I am all in favor of a bit of unrestrained shopping as and when it becomes necessary, but the fascination the media has with it seems a bit bizarre. To be honest, it makes me feel a little queasy.

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Something else that usually makes me slightly ill is news coverage of the British Royal Noodles.

For example, I understand that Prince Hamster and Mary Mimsy are intending to get married under a blaze of spotlights and microscope lenses, but this allegedly earth-shattering morsel of information does nothing for me at all.

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I can’t think what set me off in this direction, this week. Time to haul the ship’s rudder hard a’ port, and steer off in another direction.

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I see Santa’s little hut is open for business down in town, under the largest lobster trap tree in Rockland. Did you know there is another? Over along Camden Street, outside the nursing home.

Someone told me last week they know Santa personally, and somebody else told me that Santa occasionally uses the plumbing facilities at the Time Out Pub. I suppose all those people fighting to sit in his lap must put considerable pressure on the poor chap’s bladder. After all, Santa is only human.

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After the tree-lighting in town last Friday evening, I was invited to a house on Orange Street to watch extremely little people decorate Christmas cookies.

It has been a good long age since I last saw this done, but I’d say the mess they make today is about the same as the mess they made all those years ago. Only the fingerprints have changed.

It was quite interesting to watch it all happen, and was amusing to see the parents realize their kids were in danger of completely painting their pajamas with colored edibles. So all the pajamas came off the smallest cookie elves, and the kids decorated away quite happily while dressed only in their unmentionables.

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The Kiwanis club’s annual Christmas tree lot over near Hannaford (I still want to call it Shop ‘n Save) is open for business again. Seeing it made me think of the two most famous Christmas tree lots I know of on television.

One is the lot in the film with Ralphie, whose dad did not kill him in the end; the other is where Charlie Brown found that spindly little twig in a lot that is otherwise filled with shiny aluminum trees.

I don’t think the Griswold family tree-cutting scene qualifies as taking place in a Christmas tree lot, because it is actually out in a field somewhere near Chicago, at least as far as I can tell.

For years I have sworn to myself that I will buy only a very small tree, so it will not blow down too easily on top of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live.

The bigger the tree, the greater the volume of wind that will seek to displace it, according to my high school physics teacher.

So every year I try to buy the smallest tree on the lot and haul it back up the west tower, only to find it is still too big to be meteorologically stable under conditions that feature anything more than a slight breeze.

One Christmas Eve several years ago, my decorated tree swayed so violently in the gale that the Coast Guard assumed it was a signal from a ship in distress, and tried to rescue me. It was very embarrassing, and I had to pay the boys and girls five dollars each not to report me to the Coast Guard King on a charge of unlicensed signaling at night.

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For Christmas each year, I do like to get a nice new murder mystery novel, usually one written by someone from my list of acceptable foreign authors.

So far this list consists of three French people (two dead, the other not); three Italians including a Sicilian; a Scotsman, two or three Swedes, a solitary Icelander, and several assorted English people (none of them even remotely related to the Royal Noodles); all of whom are nicely offset by one good American writer.

The latter, Ben H. Winter, has a trilogy of murder mystery novels set in New Hampshire during the last days of humankind. How topical!

An asteroid has appeared in space, rather like the star over Bethlehem, I suppose, and all the evidence points to the fact that it is going to hit our poor, dear Earth with fatal effect. The two novels I have read so far take place under the shadow of this unusual plot device, and it is interesting to see how the writer handles the fact that, when death is due in October, law and order suddenly becomes a primitive concept, a very hit-and-miss sort of thing.

Society slowly unravels and becomes as unstable as a large Christmas tree in a gale.

I am looking forward to reading the third book, which I have ordered from our friendly little bookshop in town. Can’t wait to see if the asteroid really does hit, and if so, how the writer handles the question of fiction written from the point of view of a species which is now entirely and completely dead.

Happy holidays!