Just as sure as the leaves start to turn red and orange it happens. Every fall the mail box fills up with catalogs. I remember thinking the arrival of the Sears Wish Book was as exciting as Christmas itself. What Mr. Sears and JC Penney started has turned into catalogs gone wild.

Trying to remove your name from mailing lists is one of life’s greatest challenges. I even found a service who, for $20.00, will do it for you like paying a mobster to collect unpaid debts. I’m afraid if I sign up, I’ll then be on their list.

Catalog shopping has gone somewhat green with the addition of Internet stores. In the last five years the number of online catalogs has doubled while mail-out has dropped considerably. I haven’t noticed. For some reason I still get catalogs years after the “This Is Your Last Catalog If You Don’t Order” notice. Even after moving and declining third class mail, I still can’t hide from Occupant or Current Resident.

So the other night when I couldn’t sleep I thumbed through one of the holiday collections. I thought it might feel like the old Sears Wish Book days. No so much.

The first section was full of Christmas candy, toys, holiday sweatshirts, and Andy Williams CDs. It was so nostalgic I could almost smell pine trees and apple cider. Then I spent the next half hour amazed. Who invents some of these things? What’s more surprising is people evidently buy them.

There were kitchen gadgets I never knew I needed to make my life easier and every thing I might want to organize the closet. I could even order a personalized Christmas ornament honoring my deceased pet. But, what shocked me the most was flagged with a neon green NEW arrow: Walker Tennis Balls. For $16.99 you can order pink or blue tennis balls for easier walker movement and hardwood floors protection. Haven’t folks been splitting open tennis balls for that purpose for years. What’s NEW about that?

As much as I hate to admit it, the catalog marketers are brilliant. The last eight pages were filled with Christmas items. It’s hard to resist the “Let There Be Lights” magical mug. For $12.99 I can have Christmas tree mug the lights turn on when it’s filled with a hot beverage. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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