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1 day until Christmas

Are you ready?

Now that Christmas Eve has arrived, here’s hoping you have everything ready for the Big Day. Chances are, you think you do … but you might not.

This year, I will have lived through – caution, sobering thought ahead – just shy of 60 Christmases. It would be unforgivable if I would let all this holiday experience go to waste without passing on some of my faux-est faux pas.

In the spirit of good will toward all, don’t do what I’ve done in the past.

The sleigh, the sleigh! Santa has flying reindeer to power his. You need gasoline. And many gas stations, especially those off interstates, close on Christmas. I once drove 40-plus miles to my sister’s house in the Pennsylvania countryside with less than a quarter of a tank – and prayed the fumes would hold out until I got home. If you expect to be traveling, fill ’er up now. And check the oil, tires and washer fluid – and stash a blanket, scraper, jumper cables or battery charger, water, food and a flashlight just in case.

Power up. I have found that for some reason elves don’t always supply batteries. One year, I brought radio-controlled helicopters for my young nephews – only to find there were no appropriate batteries at their house. The whining lasted through dinner.

Charge it. When your brother from Wisconsin calls with Christmas cheer, you don’t want your cellphone to fritz. You’re likely going to be on the phone today and tomorrow a lot more than usual, so start out with a fresh charge and keep your chargers handy – especially, if you’re traveling, the one that works in the car. While you’re at it, charge up other battery-powered necessities – digital cameras and the mini-vac, for example.

Feeding the hungry. If entertaining guests, now is the time to make sure you’ve got all your recipe ingredients and enough beverages. But don’t forget the less obvious. Yes, that was me, having to let the turkey roaster and other pots and pans sit greasy in the sink after Christmas dinner because I ran out of dish soap. And do you really want to have to hunt down toilet paper during dinner?

A slippery slope. Even if your holiday guests aren’t facing snow or ice on the roads, make sure you have salt or gravel at the ready in case slippery patches develop on your sidewalks and driveway.

Unexpected guests? Two words: gift cards. Get a couple today and stash them in Christmas cards as emergency gifts. One year on Christmas I nearly regifted a pair of pinking shears. You don’t want to go there.

rsalter@jg.net

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