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It wouldn't be Christmas if ...

It just wouldn't be the Christmas season if ...

• The ACLU wasn't suing a municipal government somewhere in America over a courthouse-lawn nativity scene.

• I wasn't explaining to my wife, yet again, why it is that boys always ask Santa for BB guns, bows and arrows and pocket knives during this time of peace on Earth and goodwill to men - and why Santa is always willing to comply.

• The Hawks and Thrashers weren't already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

• My credit card balances weren't approaching their limits.

• I wasn't wandering down the doll aisle at Toys 'R' Us, wishing my little girl were still more interested in Barbie cars than the real thing.

• Georgia Tech wasn't traveling across three time zones to play in a bowl game.

• Some middle-aged lady in the mall parking lot, sporting a huge red bow on the grill of her SUV and wearing a Santa Claus hat, wasn't giving me the finger for (allegedly) stealing her parking space. (I saw it first.)

• My youngest son wasn't clamoring to see Santa - and his older brother wasn't feigning indifference.

• Either Brookwood or Parkview hadn't just finished playing for the state 5-A football championship.

• Hollywood hadn't just released its latest family-oriented blockbuster featuring talking animals.

• We weren't being inundated by jewelry company commercials on television and radio and by fliers in the newspapers - and if my wife wasn't leaving those fliers where I'll be sure to see them.

• I wasn't having to stop and remind myself, at least once a day, why it is that I love this time of year so much.

• I wasn't trying to figure out what the heck to get my mom this year.

• My brother and his wife hadn't already bought Mom's gift. In July.

• My elementary school-age children hadn't just celebrated the "holidays" with a "winter party" featuring multicultural snowpeople.

• It wasn't 35 degrees and sleeting one day, then 70 degrees and sunny the next.

• The malls weren't more crowded on Sunday than the churches.

• Some fat guy in a too-tight Bulldogs sweatshirt wasn't wrestling with somebody's grandmother over the last iPod at Best Buy.

• My boys weren't clamoring to watch "Home Alone" for the 87th time.

• Christmas music hadn't already been playing for a month and a half.

• Falcons fans weren't wondering if their Birds would be able to string together consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history.

• And it especially wouldn't be Christmas if I wasn't wondering whom I might have just offended by using the word "Christmas."

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins is an associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.