National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day was Dec. 7, Hanukkah began on Dec. 8, then there's Christmas Eve and Christmas, followed by Kwanzaa starting on Dec. 26 and finishing with New Year's Eve on Dec. 31.

There are cards to send, letters to mail, gifts to wrap and give, food to cook to share with friends and loved ones. It's one of my favorite times of the year. Sometimes you're reaching out to people that you only contact during the holidays. Sending them a newsy letter telling them about your year and then the waiting to hear back how their year went and the changes in their lives.

It can also be a sad time, for some of your cards and letters come back with an addressee unknown or a note from a relative of theirs that they have passed. I just hate it when that happens for I'm left with my cheerful card and letter in my hand, but another empty spot in my heart with the loss of a dear old friend.

You never have to talk to each other every day to remain friends -- at least I don't. I have lots of those once-a-year friends of 40 or more years ago. They are still as dear to me as if I see or hear from them all year long. It's just we've moved to different areas and have new friends and activities to busy us during the year. We still love each other and care about what happens, but now it's just at Christmas that we take the extra time to make a contact to cement our friendship for another year.


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Lots of us use the Internet and phone to do our shopping. Every year a new catalog shows up offering different items for sale by mail and the variety never ceases to amaze me.

You can find toys, games and candy like we used to enjoy when we were kids. Some catalogs even offer old-fashioned Christmas decorations that look just like the ones that were on our trees so many years ago. I found soaps that are no longer offered in the stores as well as makeup, perfume and even warm flannel gowns. It was like going back to the 1940s or 1950s or even later than that, to find so many products that we used to use all the time.

One catalog even offered a T-shirt with George Bush with his arms outstretched saying, "Do you miss me yet?"

I got notices in my computer mail from different companies that were offering sales deals on "Cyber Monday" -- special offers that only people ordering on the computer could get.

This Internet shopping is reminiscent of the way my family and even I shopped via the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs so many years ago. It's fun finding the different sites where you can get bargains all year long. It saves wear and tear on you and your car, plus you can get the same merchandise for less shipped right to your door. How much easier can shopping be than that?

The name bookstores picked up on this idea years ago. Many times I've priced the book in the store and then looked it up on the Internet and found it cheaper. I check the clearance section first and have found great bargains that were full price in the store itself.

Happy shopping to all of you who haven't finished yours yet.

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. Contact her at carolleeolson@aol.com.