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So how's your Christmas shopping going?

It’s time to think about buying, finding or making presents for loved ones at year’s end, to cheer us up at the time when the days are darkest before they, once again, begin to get longer and the nights shorter. We celebrate the birth of Jesus in the Christian religion, but in America, with its plethora of religions — Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Yule — we’ve evolved to wishing each other a rather bland “happy holidays.”

But the spirit and the presents remain the same. We must kick off the new year with presents for all the people we love. This used to be a very proscribed sort of ritual, with wrapping a gift and sliding it under a tree of some sort, which is standing in the living room. And if the kids are young enough, we wait till they’re asleep and we pretend some obese Nordic chap slid down the narrow chimney and put them there.

But, oh! That dreadful day when they confront us with that inevitable question, “Is there really a Santa Claus?” And we have to expose ourselves as the most base liars to our own children. Will they ever really trust us after that? It’s doubtful. Perhaps this is the source of all teenage rebellion.

Knowing their answers would be unique and very different from what you would expect from people living in this parallel dimension of Ashlandia, we asked random folk how the “shopping” was coming, if they went with the Internet, big box stores or the charming and engaging stuff of Ashland shops.

Kim (declined photo) — I’ve never done a lot of Christmas shopping. I do give things. Then we go out to dinner.

Stefani Seffinger — I haven’t started with the shopping. I plan to do it locally. I make lots of glass things and will personalize them for people I give them to ... I will try to add to the economy of Ashland with local shops. My presents go to family members and also will go to the millennials, cousins and others who have more of an economic struggle and may not have the basics. And I will give more to charity.

Aleks Spasic — I’m not a big Christmas shopper per se. I shop mostly in person at shops and don’t go to the cheaper big box stores. I look for good quality, one simple thing that will last a long time.

Vince Zawskey — I go to the Ashland shops downtown. I buy about 25 percent from the Internet. It’s so handy and I don’t like the traffic and all the time it takes to shop. But really I try to measure the Christmas season by the meaning, not by how much money I spend. It’s the spiritual connection to the Earth and to people that live on it. That’s Christmas.

Sheryl Padilla — No, I don’t do any of that shopping. I come to the Co-op and buy things for what I’m going to make, such as chocolate mousse cheesecake, then I wrap it up and send it to my loved ones. Christmas is for happiness and joy and loving of people. You don’t have to buy a lot of electronic junk. It’s more joyful to think of God. I bought this book today at Walgreen’s, “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room.” It’s really helped me by encouraging me to think of one thing at a time. Christmas should be simple. I’ve collected nativity things from Goodwill and the hospice shop to create a nativity scene under my tree, instead of presents.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.