Alexis Powers will celebrate Christmas at home with friends, around this tree.


Two weeks ago I told myself, "Never shop on a Saturday afternoon, ever again!" So where did I find myself a few Saturdays later? Standing in an endless line to pay for a gift for yours truly.

Thinking about Christmas shopping reminded me of living in New York. I'd get my Christmas bonus around noon on Christmas Eve, and we'd be dismissed from work early in the afternoon. That was the most exciting time for me to shop. After cashing my check, I'd run uptown to the department stores.

Looking at Macy's Christmas decorations always overwhelmed me, as did the giant tree at Rockefeller Center. Stopping to watch the ice skaters was a thrill, and if I could spare the time, I'd get a hot chocolate and sit for a while before charging ahead to another store.

The shops were unbelievably crowded, even for Manhattan. People were friendly, laughing at the absurdity of trying to get around each other to check out merchandise. Standing in line to pay for the items, people would pass the time by talking to strangers, explaining how hard it was to find the perfect gift. Merriment was in the air!

Hailing a taxi became a game. If I stood in the street, loaded down with shopping bags filled with gifts and someone arrived in a cab to shop at the store I was leaving, I'd seize the opportunity. If I were as nimble as a deer, I could "nab that cab" to return to my apartment or continue my spending marathon.

Maybe because I was young and loved the city, the crowds didn't bother me at all. If I were really lucky, snow would begin to fall and I would catch a few snowflakes on my tongue. How delicious! Life was an adventure.

After I'd spent all my money, I'd rush home and begin wrapping my gifts. Nothing was ever so sweet.

My years in Southern California had some wonderful Christmas holidays, too. But there was always something missing. Maybe it was the snowflakes on the tongue!

I never dreamed I would enjoy Christmas the way I did in New York. But this Christmas may turn out to be one I can never surpass.

First of all, my dear friends who live in Albuquerque are arriving on the 21st to spend the weekend. Even though they offered to drive here to pick me and my dogs up and drive us to Albuquerque, I decided to stay home. I begged them to join me for a couple of days, and, lo and behold, they've agreed to visit the weekend before Christmas so we can celebrate in Tucson!

We will exchange gifts, have a party and enjoy the time together. I'm really wound up about their visit.

Just when I thought nothing could compare to that, some new friends, who are loads of fun, have decided to do a Christmas morning of old! On Christmas morning, they will come over to my house in their pajamas. We'll all enjoy hot chocolate instead of coffee, along with homemade warm cinnamon buns.

We'll sit around the tree, opening a gift at a time, oohing and aahing over each remarkable gift - just like we did when we were little. That's why I was out that Saturday among the crowds looking for perfect gifts for these charming friends.

To make things even more fabulous, I bought myself the most adorable red pajamas with white polka dots to wear that morning. Ooh la la!

How much fun will this be? We will act like children on Christmas morning, expressing enthusiasm over our gifts, drinking hot cocoa and giggling like mad. I can hardly wait.

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