By December I had grown fangs and horns. My patience could only be measured with an atomic clock, and I wasn't above biting the elderly and small children.
Awful, I know. But you had to have been there. Christmas was a lot more dangerous back then.
If you wanted a gift for a loved one in the days before UPS, FedEx and the Internet, you actually had to venture into the Christmas jungle to find it yourself. And God help you if it was at the mall.
Back then Christmas checkout lines moved at the speed of Congress. There was none of this swiping credit cards or tapping phones at registers. Just about everyone wrote checks.
Anyone who thinks self-checkout lines at grocery stores are a pain today hasn't waited behind a dozen old ladies each of whom wants to write a check for less than four bucks.
People who didn't write checks had to wait while their credit cards were run through an imprinter and the form handwritten by the clerk.
It was nightmarishly laborious. The sound of credit cards being processed to Christmas music remains one of my most indelible holiday memories.
"On the first day CLACK/CLACK of Christmas CLACK/CLACK my true love CLACK/CLACK gave to me …"
If a store didn't have the item your true love really wanted for Christmas, there was none of this surfing the web to find it. You had to physically go to other stores. One at a #@*&$ time.
Gas was only 30 cents a gallon then but you could easily use 50 bucks' worth chasing down a highly sought after gift. I once drove to Evanston shopping for a girlfriend who by New Year's turned out not to be worth it.
It's all in the past. Not only is it possible to get everything my family wants for Christmas on the Internet, I can even have it delivered to their homes. I don't have to go there myself and risk fruitcake poisoning.
Even better, there are more "stores" to shop at on the Internet. The risk of getting something I don't really want from a local department store is considerably reduced. Now I can give my wife the link to the exact item at GulfWarSurplusOrdnance.com
Thanks to technology, I can stay home and enjoy the Lord's birthday the way it was intended in a recliner with a dog and some old Steve McQueen movies.
Yeah, this Christmas was shaping up to be the most quiet and peaceful Christmas my wife and I ever enjoyed.
Turns out it won't be entirely an online Christmas. Because they live just across the street, my wife thought the idea of watching our grandkids open their presents on Skype was stupid.
Robert Kirby can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.