“Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore. Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more. Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough. And have yourself a merry little Christmas now…”

– From the 1940s Christmas classic by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane

Ladies and gentlemen, my Christmas shopping is nearly finished, and that’s a good thing.

It’s an even better thing to have a smart, beautiful and punctual wife who makes sure that these things get done in a timely and proper manner.

Of course, the last couple of items I have to get are for – you guessed it – my lovely wife, Helen. Now, most of the presents I will give her have already been bought and paid for … and she pretty much made it all happen, naturally.

There’s no doubt she is my better half, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her or how I got along during the first 20-plus years of my life!

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go…

Snow had blanketed the ground earlier in the month, you can see illuminated Christmas trees in homes all around the area and folks will be opening presents on Christmas Day before we know it.

When I’m Christmas shopping, I sometimes think about Christmases when I was a little boy. When I’d have trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve, when my brother and I would wonder aloud what would be waiting for us underneath the Christmas tree the next morning.

I remember when Santa would come, and I remember when I was teased for still believing in Santa Claus.

And, for the record, I still believe in Santa Claus.

I remember some of the toys and presents I got so many, many years ago. I remember getting baseball and football cards and cases in which to put them.

I remember the year we finally got an Atari and were able to play Space Invaders and Pac-Man. I also remember the times when the young ones would enjoy the large, empty boxes more than the items that had been in them.

But mostly, I remember the happiness and joy of the season and spending time with family (and away from school) – and I remember the reason for the season.

Chances are, there will be little boys and girls today who will remember the same thing 30, 40 and 50-plus years from now – and unfortunately, there will be those who will not.

I’m sure there are things I put on my Christmas list that I did not get so many years ago, and perhaps I might have been disappointed when Santa or my folks didn’t come through. I honestly don’t remember.

But I do remember the happiness and joy of the season and spending time with family and loved ones, some of whom are no longer with us – and I remember the reason for the season.

I remember when seemingly everyone wanted Cabbage Patch Dolls or Rubik’s Cubes or Furbys or Tickle Me Elmos or Transformers or G.I. Joes or “Star Wars” action figures or Teddy Ruxpins or Nintendos.

Some of those things were pricy back in the day, and stores quickly sold out of some of the aforementioned items, but it’s amazing to see the things that kids want these days.

I grabbed one flier, and I saw a toy washer and dryer for kids on sale for close to $100. There is also a kiddie “kitchen,” which includes a sink, stove and cabinets, on sale for more than $100. And to complete the set, there is a kiddie refrigerator on sale for right at a hundred bucks.

I don’t know if any of these “appliances” actually do anything, but I do know that for the cost of all three, a person could buy a real appliance – a dishwasher, perhaps – and teach the young ones how to do dishes. But what fun is that?

There were also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles listed in the flier that cost up to $94.99 – on sale. I guess a buck doesn’t go as far these days … but I digress.

Today, I see people in the stores. I see the hustle and bustle. I see folks who don’t look happy at all. Some of them, I suppose, have forgotten what Christmas is all about.

Presents are nice, but at the end of the day, they’re just things. I can’t remember most of the presents I received as a young boy – and I also can’t remember all the things I got for Christmas the past year or three. Chances are you can’t, either.

But I do remember the all happiness and joy of the season and spending time with family and loved ones.

And I remember the reason for the season. That’s what is important.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.