“Veni, Vidi, Visa” (I came, I saw, I went shopping), and amidst the holiday shopping crush, I spotted a couple of familiar faces. As they passed, I said, “I don’t know what possessed me to get into this crowd.”

The wife smiled and charged ahead, but her husband nodded in agreement and said, “I thought we were going to a Jaguars’ game. She tricked me.”

Late humor writer Erma Bombeck wrote: “Shopping is a woman thing. It’s a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.”

Indeed, this is the month to gift shop. It’s a custom that can be traced back to the festivals of Saturnalia and Kalenda, when Roman Emperors demanded that their officials bring them presents of evergreen branches for good luck and honey and cakes symbolizing sweetness and prosperity in the New Year. Royal wish lists grew to include candles, statues of gods and jewelry—now we’re getting somewhere. The hoi polloi adopted the practice. It was later justified as an outgrowth of the Magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for baby Jesus.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” could be the first recorded example of Christmas conspicuous consumption. Originally published in 1780 as a children’s book, the nerve-racking, repetitive verse was used as a teaching rhyme. It details gifts delivered to a young woman by her “true love” each day between Christmas and the Epiphany. This year the cost of gifts cited in the English carol would total $39,094.93, according to the PNC Christmas Index. For example, a partridge will cost $20.18, 18 cents more than last year, and Six Geese-a-Laying will set you back $390. That’s nothing compared to the price of 10 Lords-a-Leaping, estimated at $10,000, not counting their up-keep. Eleven Pipers Piping ($2,804.40) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($3,038.10) have gone up 3.5 percent from last year. On the bright side, due to fluctuating gold prices you can get five Gold Rings for a bargain $750; that’s $75 less than they went for in 2017.

It’s thought the holiday gifting frenzy was fueled by the 1820s Clement Moore poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” describing Santa filling stockings from “a bundle of toys he had flung on his back.” Indeed, shopping for holiday gifts for children is fun, but finding the right present for older folks can be difficult.

Around the turn of the first century Roman poet Publius Ovidus Naso, nicknamed Ovid, complained “a woman is always buying something.” He should know. He was married three times and divorced twice by age 30. As author Robert Byrne observed: “One reason people get divorced is that they run out of gift ideas.”

A couple of years ago my True Love, nicknamed Binmeister, ran out of gift ideas and gave me a Chicken Dance Elmo—I’m not making this up—“for the woman who has everything,” he said.

“Excuse me,” I replied. “In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have everything…yet.”

Holiday shopping has become complicated. You can avoid stores all together by ordering on line or send gift cards, an impersonal practice. As someone said, it makes you yearn for the good old days when folks stopped Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.