The Christmas spirit is starting to gather momentum in Longford
When you're young, Christmas is a time of magic wherever you go, whether it be at home or your local filling station.
From November onwards, you can't escape the cheery Christmas tunes, and Santa's Grotto is always just a car drive away.
As you get older, another thing you can't escape is the ever-growing wish-list from friends and family.
The back aisle of Tesco was always a haven for me, where I became engrossed with all the new toys as my mam stocked up on stuffing and turkey.
Whether it was Boots, Argos or Lidl, it seemed there was always something to marvel at, even if it was just some tinsel and fairy lights.
Every shop became a shining beacon of red and gold; it's obvious how easy it was to continue to extend my wish-list, no matter how extravagant it might have seemed to someone else (when you're seven a lifetime supply of Lego seems easily accessible).
Santa's Grotto was another wonderland, waiting in line surrounded by other eager children could fill you with anticipation beyond compare.
You can imagine my delight at meeting Santa himself in Longford Shopping Centre and him actually knowing my name; all the letters and drawings clearly paid off.
This spirit doesn't just extend to the younger generations; at age forty, Santa came to my dad one more time when he received his Hornby Train-set. My sister's and my combined excitement couldn't begin to match his shock and delight. Needless to say, the train-set was still in use well into the New Year.
Every year, I'd fill with joy as the space beneath the tree began to stack up with presents. Of course, now I have some responsibility to fill up that space too.
Before, Christmas shopping for me was as simple as writing on the tag of whatever present my parents bought in my name. You couldn't exactly expect a child to do all their Christmas shopping when they can barely reach the shelves.
Now I have to do a bit more than write my name, and despite help from my parents, there's something satisfying about knowing that you chose and bought the present yourself, confident that the recipient will love it.
I remember shopping for my family's Secret Santa and felt so responsible choosing the perfect present. It wasn't too hard, though; according to my mam there's no such thing as too many cookbooks.
And despite not having an army of elves, Christmas shopping has never been easier. Toys, jewellery, clothes, you name it: they're all just a laptop away and can be bought in a few clicks, gift-wrapped and all.
I'm all for exploring the decorative aisles of the local shops, but there's something to be said about avoiding the chaos of last minute shopping.
No matter how you do your shopping or celebrate Christmas, there's no denying that the Christmas spirit reaches all of us, and with it seemingly arriving earlier and earlier each year (who needs Halloween anyway?), there's all the time in the world to prepare for Santa Claus coming to town.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.