Show of hands – how many people still haven’t finished their Christmas shopping yet?

I mean, it is Christmas Eve … you know?! The clock’s a-ticking…

Then again, I suppose I don’t really have much room to talk – I did just finish my own shopping yesterday! Granted, it was a personal best for me this year, but I haven’t always been such an attentive holiday shopper, that’s for sure.  To say that I’ve been known to procrastinate from time to time is probably a bit of an understatement … in fact, there was even this one year when – believe it or not – I actually put off my Christmas shopping until only hours before the stroke of midnight on a day much like today!

The year was 2006.

In fact, it was the first year that I’d spend Christmas together with the girl who would eventually become my wife.  In hindsight, you’d think that might’ve been a tad more motivated to actually get all of my amazing presents under the tree in a more timely manner, but as they say, lazy habits die hard…

I don’t remember the exact distraction at the time – maybe I was a bit pre-occupied by the latest video game to grace my Playstation 2, or maybe I was just too busy watching episodes of The Office back in the day when the show was actually funny to want to leave the comforts of my own home and venture out into the general craziness that is the world of holiday shopping.  I mean, for what it’s worth, I don’t exactly blame myself for that – shopping during this time of year most certainly is crazy, from the insane crowds at the mall to the even more insane crowds outside in the parking lot when they get behind the wheel … you can see from the look in their eyes that they’ll stop at nothing – actual stop signs included! – to get to that next sale while the Zhu Zhu Pets are still hot!

If you ask me, you’d have to be crazy not to want to avoid all of that candy cane-induced chaos as long as humanly possible, but of course, as Christmas does unfortunately come but once a year, eventually there comes a time when a guy has to suck it up and get with the spirit of the season if he wants to avoid re-gifting old magazines and canned corn to the girl that he’s actually hoping will stick around at least through the foreseeable future.

For me, that time came right around 6:30pm the night of Christmas Eve.

And as you might expect, this is where our story gets interesting because as most retail workers will profess joyously in relief, 6:30pm on Christmas Eve is the time when the vast majority of stores have finally called it good and closed up shop until after Christmas, leaving an increasingly dwindling number of options for stragglers like myself as the evening progresses!  Aside from 7/11 and maybe ABC Liquor, neither of which was going to be particularly great for my relationship anyways, my options were hovering weakly between slim and none, and at this point it was going to take some quick thinking to get myself out of this Christmas Eve kerfuffle…

Like Mrs. Claus preparing breakfast for a hungry group of elves, I was going to have to scramble!

Fortunately, living here in Central Florida as I tend to gloat about to my frigid brethren of the north from time to time, I did have one alternative resource at my disposal which was admittedly a bit unorthodox, however as desperate times call for desperate measures, it was with panicking haste that I grabbed my shopping list and pointed the car towards the one place in Florida that was guaranteed to still be open for business at 6:30pm on Christmas Eve … Disney World.

Now of course, this wasn’t the first time that Mickey Mouse managed to come to my rescue, and considering that the following spring I would return to propose to that very same girlfriend with the help of a few of his friends, it certainly wouldn’t be the last, either … I suppose in retrospect it just makes sense that of the few places left for last-minute Christmas shopping, the most popular tourist destination in the country would still be alive and kicking in the final hours before Christmas itself…

And kickin’, it most certainly was! Whereas stores elsewhere were locked up tight and their parking lots had been long since deserted, the streets of Downtown Disney were bright and bustling with tourists partaking in all of the festivities that celebrating the holidays at Disney has to offer, from live music and dancing in the streets to snacking on all sorts of holiday treats to even some last-minute photo opportunities with the big S.Claus himself.  Granted, I had my own last-minute activities to partake in, so sidestepping all of the other merry fun as best I could, I slipped in and out of the massive crowds like a shadow in the brightly illuminated night, a man on a mission to save Christmas!

Some Mickey Mouse socks, a Pirates of the Caribbean beach towel, an Eeyore mug that depicted the tragedy of mornings without coffee – if my girlfriend hadn’t already been tested to see just exactly how much Disney she could tolerate in her life, Christmas morning was going to be it!  Well, actually it was surprisingly easy to find a variety of gifts that weren’t entirely Disney-related during my 11th hour shopping quest, and by the time the clock struck midnight and even the Disney shops were getting ready to send patrons back to their hotels for the night, I was back in my car with a trunk load of goodies racing home to get them all wrapped and under the tree before my night-shift-working lady friend would return home in only a few hours.

It was indeed a race against the clock until the very end, but when morning came and all of those last-minute presents were ripped open just as happily as any, I knew that my holiday cheer had persevered once again.

Good, old-fashioned lazy holiday cheer…

Almost makes you want to put all of those gifts that you already bought off to the side and start all over again today, just for fun, doesn’t it?!  Well, no – that would be crazy, but for those few souls left in the crowd who might still be struggling to fulfill a last few items on wish lists big and small, know that there’s still time as long as you’ve still got plenty of holiday cheer to help push you through … and of course, at this point a bit of pixie dust certainly wouldn’t hurt, either!