Guess what?

Christmas promos are popping up everywhere, and no surprise to anyone, so are some decorations.

This year, there seems to be an excuse, because Thanksgiving, traditionally the last Thursday in November, is about as late as it can get.

That cuts almost a week out of holiday shopping time, so folks are gearing up already with their gift ideas, but not me.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not married, have no children and no rigid holiday obligations, other than a bunch of Christmas cards that, sadly, are diminishing as time marches on.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to enjoy the holidays immediately preceding Christmas as much as Christmas itself, and mainly because I’ve grown older.

The Santa Claus fantasy has elapsed, but not the Thanksgiving frenzy of eating things I don’t normally eat.

A day off is as important to me as anything, a chance to do what I want and not worry about schedules, and sometimes I make a trek out of town to watch football with my friends, but perhaps that can wait until New Year’s Day.

Christmas used to mean getting up before dawn to open presents, journey to my aunt’s home in South Boston for dad’s family gathering, lunch and then later to another aunt’s home at Gobbler’s Knob near my house.

Add a trip to Roxboro for another family Christmas dinner and at least one big trip to a gathering for the other side of the family, and the holiday sojourns were complete.

I still travel to mother’s home place in Mecklenburg for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and next door to the neighbor’s house for his family gathering on Christmas Day, but that’s the extent of my travels for the holidays under most circumstances.

Christmas has become big business and the prime moneymaker for a number of Americans.

The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates.

That’s a lot of dough, cookie and otherwise, so I guess the days of cheap toys have come to an end to be replaced by video games, four-wheelers and electronics.

Give me an empty box and my imagination anytime.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.