HERE comes the jaws of Christmas. Ah now, don't start crying about Christmas coming too early.
A couple of friends of mine have been lamenting the fact that Christmas jumpers have already appeared in a well-known clothes store and tins of sweets, that are often opened following the Christmas dinner, are stacked shoulder high in some of the supermarkets.
For the Lads, Christmas feels simultaneously just around the corner and yet very far away. Watch on the satellite TV and see wall to wall advertisements that, while they don't overtly refer to the festive season, are not the type of things that anyone but Santa would be able to afford.
But for people like me, whose eyes are keen for the bargain and whose wages are not as keen as they once were, getting started early is the key, I have learned from bitter past experience.
So squirrelling is my middle name this time of the year and while I was off work a couple of weeks ago, I started the Christmas shopping and bought a few books for the kids while I was in Newry. You can never start too soon as I say, and my colleagues laugh at me when, every August, I tell them: 'There y'are now: it's my birthday, then St Gerard's Novena and then you're in the jaws of Christmas, as they say in Dundalk'.
Every year they laugh in August, but agree with me at the start of every December about how time seems to speed up in the last quarter of the year and, before you know it, you're running down the road for the last turkey crown in the butchers and cursing the fact that you've no sticky tape for the presents.
I used to stare in wonder at people who talked like that, but now I have become one of them. It's the recession, you know. I also used to wonder at the people who shopped in German-owned supermarkets and sure, wasn't I in one on Saturday last myself?
Getting ready for Christmas early makes financial sense to me so make sure to say hello when you see me wandering around the shops of the town, putting my few quid away in the Christmas 'clubs'.
Of course, there are advantages to getting Christmas going in September. The Big Lad, for example, saw a couple of leaves falling off a tree in the garden last week and believes the Christmas is just around the corner. He wants a Wii, he tells me. I tell him poor auld Santy is pretty much in the jaws of Nama at this stage, but the Big Lad doesn't know the difference between a tenner and €100.
So I gave him that famous line that every Ma trots out in situations like this: 'We'll see'. And then I was inspired. I bought a packet of gold stars and a notebook and told him that every day, if he was good, he would get gold stars and Santa would take stars as part payment towards the Wii.
Needless to say, he is now, on the last star count, officially the best boy in Dundalk. And any money spent on a Wii will have been earned with good behaviour from now to December 24.
And before you ask, I did try the same trick with the Wee Lad - but he was having none of it. The premise of stars and delayed gratification and earning something worthwhile went right over his head. He ate a sheet of the gold stars though. So you could say that Christmas was, quite literally, in HIS jaws.