Thankfully Christmas has passed.

Oh-no, don't get me wrong. Gifts are fun to receive, it's great to get together with family and friends, and the holidays are a wonderful time to share, celebrate and eat.

But in years past, I've needed to raid the local drugstore at 9:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, to round out the wish lists of those nearest and dearest to me.

It's not those dreaded holiday blahs, instead it's my aversion to shopping.

Seems like some of those fellow Christmastime shoppers have bricks in their purses and sharpen their elbows in anticipation of a tussle.

And who in their right mind awakens with the sun, in an effort to beat the crowds on Black Friday, only to experience those lines anyway?

No matter what, it's my luck, it seems that when given a choice, I make the wrong one - my line always takes the longest.

Whether it's at the supermarket or Kmart, people begin to write a check only after they've watched the clerk bag their purchases, drives me batty.

I witnessed a 25-year-old take the short line at the market with 40 items, and then allow the clerk to bag his groceries.

I asked that obviously deranged slacker if I could help him bag since he "can't count and might need help."

My anger boiled. Those stores can become battlegrounds.

Road rage and rage spent in a store are negative, yet typical, behaviors. But, yes, it felt so good to let that knucklehead know that other people notice.

The malls at King of Prussia lead to disorientation. Getting lost is a given. All those stores look similar the second or third time past. The doors leading to the parking lot seem hidden. Once trapped, within the bowels of a mall, escape is my main consideration.

Exhaustion overcomes me. I'll use any excuse to sit and relax, away from the strain of looking at, and pricing items. For the most part, stores are filled with stuff I don't want, need or can't afford.

Not since high school have I gone into a store without putting up a fight, unless a specific item was desired prior to entering. Shopping for the mere sake of shopping is degenerate and sick. Do families really pack out the car and head for the mall on a Friday night?

The following are some rules I have devised to make my life simpler.

Before entering a store, have a game plan. Get in and get out. Know where you are going before you walk through the door.

Never take a cart, no matter how hungry or how much you might need to carry. If you must, limit all purchases to what will fit into a basket. This will guarantee a spot in the "15 items or less" aisle.

In the long run, this strategy might create more trips, but in turn will significantly cut the duration of each visit.

Don't lose sight of your co-shopper. That could be tragic. In a large store or mall, someone who enjoys shopping needs constant prodding.

Claim an illness. Repeatedly notify your co-shopper of the time. Mention other places you would rather spend time (almost anywhere else).

Shop late at night. MAC machines, gas stations and Wawas are wonderful places to visit and they discourage loitering. Late at night there are fewer people around to clog the machine and request a balance prior to receiving cash.

There is nothing wrong with a quick nap in the car while someone else shops.

Stay far, far away from garage sales and flea markets. When necessary, divert the attention of all occupants of a vehicle when in the vicinity of homemade garage sale signs.

"One person's junk is another's treasure" is nothing other than a lousy sales pitch. Nobody wants that stuff that is but a few hours away from being pitched into the trash. If you really desire chipped glassware, go to a fair and toss a few dimes and get it new.

Nothing wrong with going into a supermarket hungry, but make sure that you are so famished that you must be fed, with no time left for other purchases.

Annoy, by grabbing useless items from the shelves, such as nostril and ear hair trimmers, and then claim poverty and ask the co-shopper if she will lend you a fiver. Only the most intense shoppers will persist.

Never purchase holiday items, even at a savings of as much as 90 percent. What looks like a bargain in the store, and is still left on the shelves, is likely worth no more than then the discounted price. There is a reason for those sale prices.

Expect to forget that you bought all of that holiday wrapping paper on sale 50 weeks from now, and if you don't, just try to find it.

Anything which requires bargaining, such as buying a car, might involve deceit. While examining a Pontiac 6000, with 250,000 miles on the odometer, a salesman told me that he had purchased a similar car for his mother.

He then told me that high mileage was simply a "state of mind."

Their store is likely bigger than your home. The merchant will take what little cash you have to build other stores to make more money.

Keep smiling but don't pull out your wallet. Deep pockets with short arms is not a bad affliction.

Yes, almost everything must be purchased. Try to wait until it comes as a gift.

If you must shop, do it with care.

Bill Rettew Jr. may be reached at no charge at brettew@phoenixvillenews.com

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