It is a relatively quiet Thanksgiving, but for the dinging of my phone. My email tells me sales are rampant, and I can get great deals on clothing, jewelry, computers and more.

Even travel companies are in on the action, and I learn that I can save much money if I opt to take an impromptu vacation to a sunnier climate.

Why, oh why, did I provide my mobile email when booking that flight last year?

I wish I could turn the iPhone off, but that is not a choice. The cell is an important connection to important contacts and a lifeline to breaking news stories.

I hope it will be a quiet holiday. But, if not, I need to know about it.

• • •

Why must our current holiday shopping options be so intrusive?

While I appreciate the technology that allows me to shop via a few keystrokes on my phone, my ideal method of Christmas gift planning harkens to decades past.

I miss the Sears, Roebuck and Company Wish Book.

The catalog was gigantic. Humungous. And quite the heavy load for a 7-year-old to carry.

I swear the book was a good two to three inches thick, and its pages carried pictures and details of every product imaginable.

Of course the toy pages were among the most popular. Baby dolls and Barbies, with unlimited accessories, graced the slick paper, as did the boy toys like Army men, Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars.

I would lug the book from room to room, finding the best windows with the best light to peruse the pages.

For an up-and-coming word nerd it provided weeks of entertainment.

• • •

Of course, being a child, the first go-round in the book was always a quest for the personal "Dear Santa" list.

Barbie was always my favorite. She was blond, and slim, and big-eyed, and tan.

And yes, stereotypes in toys ran amok in those days.

The best thing about Barbie, though, was her wardrobe and, most especially, her shoes.

From strappy sandals to wear-to-work pumps, Barbie rocked them all. Each tiny ensemble required the appropriate, complementary, killer footwear.

To this day, I blame any lingering obsessive-compulsive tendencies with my childhood drama of keeping up with dozens of pairs of high-heeled, pastel-colored loafers.

And, on a random note, she also altered my vocabulary.

To this day, I still describe some of my sassiest shoes as sporting some "serious Barbie toe."

• • •

But the catalog wasn't all about Barbie. For those with a house full of siblings, it was also an opportunity to select a wish list for others.

Brother Eddie loved Army men, and if I had possessed more than a crumpled dollar bill and handful of change I would have purchased him a regiment of the flat olive, plastic men complete with tanks and bazookas.

Brother Billie was the intellectual one, and I knew the giant science kits filled with beakers, goggles, kid-safe chemicals and more would make him smile on Christmas morning.

At this time, sisters Pam and Ann were into boys, music and clothes. They liked bell bottoms, bold prints and the argument-inducing Sizzler skirts.

Perhaps they would like some high-heeled shoes to match those too-short skirts that they couldn't bend over in while wearing.

• • •

Adults, too, were always on the wish list.

In my imaginary world, Dad got tons of tools because he was always fixing things for others.

Granny was a tough one to buy for in my pretend mind, but I always ended up gifting her with tons of kitchen appliances and a brand-new chenille robe.

Who wouldn't want a chenille robe, right?

Mom was also difficult to buy for in the real world, but with make-believe dollars it was easy. I would simply skip to the jewelry section and purchase all the items on all the pages.

I imagined how wonderful it would be if Mom could take off her apron and be draped in gold, silver and diamonds.

Last, but never least, was Grandpa. Because we shared a love of gardening and the outdoors he was the most fun to pretend buy for.

Mowers, plants, lawn ornaments and more would be stacked under the tree if I were a millionaire -- or, in my childhood mind, a thousand-aire.

Grandpa never knew it, but in my pretend world he got a brand-new tiller each and every morning on Dec. 25.

• • •

The cellphone ding brings me back to the present. It appears Apple, too, is having a Black Friday weekend sale.

Maybe I should get the husband a laptop for Christmas. And, while I'm at it, perhaps new tablets for all those in the newsroom and Fitbit watches or other gadgets for all my department head colleagues.

And the boss? Well, an incoming travel email tells me I can send he and his family on a luxurious Cancun getaway.

I wish my bank account would allow such extravagances, but I'm a busy editor in a small-town newsroom.

We don't do Cancun, lavish jewelry or even a sea of Army men as gifts.

But, hey, the cellphone is dinging.

How about a breaking news story for Christmas?

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.

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