Ordinarily, I abhor the thought of skipping through holidays and thinking about Christmas.

Thanks to the online Chrismas Clock, I can tell you that today (Monday, August 23rd) marks 122 days until Christmas. It's true; it's just under four months until Santa makes his visit.

Santa isn't the only one making a visit around this time. If Operation Fast Track goes well, we might see some vaccines show up in November/December (that's a BIG might). Unfortunately, a lot of businesses can't wait another minute to put some money on the books.

My suggestion is that you find a reliable, LOCAL retailer and pick up some gift cards now. Help strong, independent retailers stay that way until they can get through this crunch and pump money back into our LOCAL economy.

Even if we are fortunate enough to get a vaccine or a drug or treatment that makes COVID-19 less serious, there will still be some hesitation to get back out there. Yes, it's a risky move to tie your money up this way, but you have to look at it as an investment in a business and our community.

These days, nearly all retailers have some kind of electronic payment system, so just overpaying for store credit (with the establishment's approval) is usually an option, too.

Then, there is the third option: just go ahead and by those gifts and hide them now.

If you're not fortunate enough to have funds to do this, please make a personal pledge to shop our local mom and pop shops. I know that it's all too easy to just hit the Amazon gift card button, but money spent with our local retailers comes back to you quicker, so please get into that Christmas spirit and shop LOCAL now.

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