Two weeks away from the big day, and the shouting has already started.
Parking-lot brawls, catfights over shopping carts and grown men weeping because someone else snatched the last stuffed toy off the shelf - these, along with insipid, endless holiday muzak, are the real sounds of the season.
I'd rather catch the latest deadly flu strain than be forced to hustle around in a mall with a few thousand other procrastinators, murmuring violently to themselves as they try to figure out what to get Aunt Gladys for Christmas. Thankfully, you don't have to.
Each year, online shopping becomes more popular, for the simple reason that people, however kind and outgoing, inevitably have a misanthropic side to them. Why bother with the inevitable pushing and shouting when you can simply sit in your room and click your way out of a hole?
Of course, time is paramount. Act by the end of this weekend and you're all but guaranteed to have the gift delivered by the 25th.
There are thousands of great online shopping sites. My credit card company is on intimate terms with these.
www.amazon.com I'm constantly surprised at what Amazon stocks, from the obscure to the obvious. In a creepy kind of way, they've become the Wal-Mart of the Web. Those buying for a friend overseas, and those who own a zone-free DVD player and want to have series 2 of The Office right now can check amazon.co.uk
www.dustygroove.com For the deep soul, jazz, Brazilian or Latin music fan on your list. They've got it all, plus cool portable record players and funky zines. Every time I go to this site I spend money. You've been warned.
www.othermusic.com Distressingly comprehensive and with an ear toward the painfully obscure, Other Music remains the digger's choice for cool CDs. Another wallet-draining sure thing.
www.descarga.com On a salsa binge? Desperate for Cuban big band music and tired of not being serviced properly by your local megastore? Here's the ticket.
www.dvdplanet.com As this site shows, one of the great things about shopping online is the stock.
www.half.com Half as in half-price. A good thing.
www.thinkgeek.com For the gadget lover. Roll-up keyboards, funky optical mice and other examples of 22nd-century technology.
www.puretracks.com Nervous about the feds kicking down your door and stealing your hard drive full of illegally downloaded songs? Buy the pirate in your life some time on the nation's only legitimate music downloading site. Sadly, no Macs yet.
www.thebeerguy.ca Give the gift of booze.
www.dailybread.ca Do something for someone else.
http://boycottchristmas.freeservers.com Overwhelmed by all this commercialism? In the words of this site, "Christmas is for the rich."