The lists have been made, revised, revised again and handed out.

The shopping is winding down.

All that is left is the dreaded wrapping of the gifts. I swear I would rather face an angry crowd in a store than wrap gifts.

Christmas is almost here, and I guess, we are ready or about ready.

It seems the season got here a lot quicker this year, or maybe the older I get the less buildup there is.

Of course since the youngest child in our home is now our 16-year-old son, Alek, the anticipation has changed quite a bit from when we had two little ones running around the house.

This Christmas also is the last one our daughter, Claire, will be at home. Next year, she will be in college and will have to e-mail her Christmas list. No doubt it will show up in our bulk e-mail.

We are a family that relies on lists. I don't remember making out lists as a child. I just told my mom and dad what I wanted over and over again until it was burned into their memory and they were sick of hearing about it.

I also relied on the J.C. Penney catalog. I poured over it from the time it arrived in November until Christmas. I circled everything I wanted, showed my mom and repeated that for days.

I never had the Internet to research what I wanted or print out pictures to accompany the list.

I never dreamed of that kind of technology, but then again it does make it easier for mom and dad when they go shopping.

Claire and Alek are very specific about what they want, and, as usual, Claire's list is the longest in the family. It comes complete with pictures and where these items can be found.

Alek, on the other hand, has fewer items on his list, and even, for the first time in history, had troubling thinking of anything to put on his list. He eventually found a few things to make our search easier.

My wife is the rare person who really does not worry too much about what she is getting and takes several proddings to come up with a few items she would like.

Eventually she did produce a list and then hung it throughout the house to make sure we all saw it and had individual copies.

Life is a lot easier and Christmas runs smoother when your wife puts her wishes on paper. Then I have the proof that what I got her was what she wanted.

As for me, I joke that I have been producing a list for my wife for years and dating back to 1987 she had not filled it.

She claims it is a list of ideas, not a list to be filled.

I counter it is list, like any list, that should be completed each year. You do not make out a grocery list filled with ideas. You make out a grocery list and purchase everything on it.

I don't win that argument.

Another factor this year is Claire. She has a boyfriend, and so it appears the family's gifts will take a backseat to him. Once she wraps up his gifts, she'll think about the rest of us. We might end up with whatever she can pick up at the gas station before it closes Christmas Eve.

Long list or short, filled or not, Christmas will come and everyone will be thankful for what they got, and even more thankful for having people who care enough about them to find the perfect gift for them.

Patrick Murphy of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.