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One of the best parts of the Christmas season for Gill is the publication of The Insider’s Report, an ad flyer produced by the Loblaws chain. It is meant to show (and ‘big up’ as Gill would say) their new and exciting products. Most of the products are canapés, cheeses,desserts, and candies…all very elaborate, so NOT nutritional–filled as they are with sugar, fat, and salt (in short, everything yummy!)

A week ago, she got in her reminder that I was to pick up (it used to be delivered but now you have to work for it — like it’s a ‘limited edition) said flyer…on pain of death if I didn’t. It IS her favorite reading material over the holidays. To her, it’s akin to the Sears Wishbook from her childhood. She’d circle all the toys she wanted from Santa. Now she circles all the weird food items (and I use the term loosely) she expects me to buy.

I went to the Superstore this week and looked for it. No luck. Perhaps it’s too early. I’ll make a further reconnoiter closer to Christmas. But in its stead, I had a look at the regular flyer from the store. It did not disappoint!

At the top of the page, they declared happily that the following day was ‘National Cookie Day’! I suspect that the actual authorities who make up these ‘special’ national celebratory occasions haven’t the faintest clue about this one. No matter. The store knows and they’re selling cookies!

The bakery department did not disappoint: they advertised a well-known, upscale brand of French baguettes with a GUARANTEE that, if they ran out, your next loaf would be free! I guess they have learned from the pizza restaurants.

My eyes moved down to the coffee section where a certain brand of coffee pod for the fancy machines was on sale. They noted that we should look for ‘the brown ring on the pod’ so we’d be sure it was the correct brand and not an imposter. Wow! I’m good at that ….I have brown rings on many things(cups, pots) in my kitchen. Gill will back me up on that. The question I then have is: How is that a distinguishing characteristic? Perhaps for Martha Stewart, but the rest of us, not so much…

And then I reached the kicker: the offer that the store would “Make holiday hosting easy” — with everything from food to decorations to clothes. Well, all I have to answer that is to point out that, even if I were to avail myself of their help, I couldn’t possibly make mine simpler.

For starters, I collected my decorations (purloined fresh boughs obligingly yet accidentally cut off trees along our walking paths by the city), red bows from decorated festive wine bottles(meant, no doubt, to encourage me to buy this brand — but I already do…lots of it…well, the season is stressful!), and I do not need a new tree since my 25-year -old artificial tree is perfectly fine. Well, perhaps a few branches are bent and it’s a bit musty after spending the last 25 years in a box in the basement. Believe me, there are other items in that basement that have not made it…not to mention a few refugee mice sheltering from the cold outside.

Besides, if I purchased one of those fancy trees with lights already on them (pre-lit…a phrase that describes many people during this time of year), my kids would laugh me out of the house. It wouldn’t truly be Christmas without Mom swearing at the tangled lights, searching high and low for the hooks to hang ornaments, and declaring in a snit that “I thought I had saved more icicles than this” as I separate the strands carefully and throw them artfully at the branches in an attempt to make the result not look too sparse.

But it wouldn’t be OUR Christmas without these things…that and a glass of Bailey’s.