The pressure's off.

We are not exchanging gifts this year in our family.

No sweating over what I'm going to buy my wife.

No sweating over the bills.

No endless lists from my children.

No addendums to those endless lists.

This isn't some grandiose statement by our family.

We're not trying to end Black Friday, although it is nice to know I won't come home black and blue from shopping.

This isn't any social commentary on the commercialism of Christmas.

We just decided to do something different this year.

We are going to close the newspaper office and spend time together. We don't even have to kidnap the kids to do it.

It doesn't mean we won't celebrate. We have our lights up outside. We made our annual trip to the tree farm to pick out the official Murphy Christmas tree.

We're still in the process of decorating the inside of our home, hence the plastic tubs filled with stuff that our blind basset hound keeps walking into. If she could talk she'd tell us to hurry up and get the house decorated before she becomes concussed.

That doesn't mean there won't be some gifts exchanged.

Claire and Alek will trade presents with their respective boyfriend and girlfriend.

My wife's parents are hosting an early Christmas before they head west to warmer weather, so there will be a few gifts.

My wife and a couple friends went on their annual shopping trip last week.

My family doesn't get together until after New Year's, and there hasn't been gifts exchanged in years.

As much as opening presents is part of the celebration, I have to say, it's kind of a relief.

It's not like we have little ones at home waiting for Santa Claus, and besides that, there really isn't anything we need.

When you reach a certain age, there really isn't much you need. And if there is, you usually buy it yourself when you need it.

When asked what she wanted for Christmas, my mom used to tell us "nothing I have to clean or dust."

Christmas gifts become more about wants. There's stuff I want, but not much I need. And even though I'm older, I still don't want clothes for Christmas.

Claire would be happy with a lot of clothes.

Alek will take clothes, but he has very specific tastes.

As for my wife, she rarely wants much of anything. She is one of the few people who doesn't ask for a lot, which can be frustrating when you have to buy for her.

But this year, Christmas will come without ribbons, without tags. It'll come without packages, boxes or bags.

But it will still come.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.