Take heart, Black Friday shopper. I hear your desperate cry for help. I know you set your alarms for 2 a.m. and risked frostbite just to get a jump on the shop-till-you-drop madness. Let's help each other stop all this insanity, for St. Nick's sake!

Take heart, Black Friday shopper. I hear your desperate cry for help. I know you set your alarms for 2 a.m. and risked frostbite just to get a jump on the shop-till-you-drop madness. Let's help each other stop all this insanity, for St. Nick's sake!

I know taming the holiday shopping beast is not as easy as it sounds. But I submit to you, something is amiss with Ye Olde Christmas List (or Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc.) if our Turkey Day's tryptophan coma can't be slept off in the warmth of a cozy bed.

I've tried before to rein in my inner Santa, only to cave mere days before the fat man is slated to sing "Ho! Ho! Ho!" Like a guilt-stricken elf, I engaged in frantic shopping forays, hunting through picked-over bins like a crazed weasel. During the "homemade" years, I've wept in the wee hours at my kitchen table, covered in pastry flour or craft glue. And don't get me started on those midnight-to-dawn gift-wrapping sessions.

Sound familiar? They say the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. "Hello, my name is Sanne ... ." My problem is that I love everyone on my list. I love getting presents. I love giving presents. Mostly, though, I hate the thought of being viewed as the family Bah Humbugger.

But all the spending, schlepping and stress take such a toll on my holiday spirit I can barely muster up the energy for a simple carol: "Do you see what I see?" I bet you do.

This year, I established a couple of simple parameters: If you're over the age of 9, or under the age of 90, don't expect a gift. (Feel free to adjust up or down accordingly.) Please note that I meet these over/under-age requirements, so snip me off your list, too.

What about our flagging economy? Pish tosh. I'm not advocating a zero-gift policy. But I think we can all do our duty to God and country without toting home any more Santa-theme sweaters, raspberry-scented bath soap or really bad ties. How about emphasizing gifts created by local talent?

Still feeling Grinchish? Get some gift cards — and donate them to folks you don't even know. The Mail Tribune's Light One Candle holiday giving series will be starting soon. There are many in our community with needs far greater than yours or mine.

Meanwhile, take a deep, cleansing breath and repeat this mantra: "Our greatest gift is simply to be present." Let's not fret the presents.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.