You know that old Christmas carol that goes, "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat"? Well, might I suggest a slight lyric change to "please put a penny in Jean Teasdale's hat"? And, instead of "a penny," make it "$2,756.29"? Because that's how much my Visa bill is right now, and I'm afraid that Christmas at the Teasdales is not going to be too merry this year if I don't find a way to pay this thing off pronto!

It's not like I haven't been trying to pay it off. I mean, I've been working my tail off at Fashion Bug. (I'm up to 30 hours a week!) I'd work even more if my boss, Roz, would let me, but she hired a new girl, Ellen, who wanted extra hours, too. That irked me a little. After all, it's not like we get a huge amount of business anyway, especially on weekdays, and having an extra person around seems kind of unnecessary. But Ellen is a friend of Roz's, so that got her an automatic in at the Bug. Plus, she's always going off about how she's a single mom with two kids and is strapped for cash. Don't get me wrong: I love kids to pieces and hope to have some of my own someday. (Can't you hear those loud ticks coming from my biological clock?) But just because Ellen is a mom, that doesn't make her better than me. We all have crosses to bear. I mean, I've got a police record now, but you don't hear me trying to get sympathy or favoritism from it.

It's a shame that I'm in such debt, because my own X-mas wish list is about a mile long this year. And, after the Year From Hell that I had, I deserve a little something nice! Of course, I've got one thing going for me, the fact that my family is no longer speaking to me due to that little born-again Christian fiasco of mine. So at least I'll save a few hundred bucks not buying presents for them!

Also on the plus side, hubby Rick agreed to pay the entire amount of rent until I have my debts paid off! The only catch is, he made me promise to pay for the groceries, utilities, car insurance, and cable, not to mention settle at least half my credit-card debt before I even thought of splurging on myself at the mall. The fact that I couldn't get more hours at Fashion Bug didn't soften him a bit. "Just get a second job," he snorted. (Sheesh! Heil Hubby!)

Still, I can't stop dreaming about the stuff I'd love to buy myself this X-mas. For example, I just know there's a DVD player out there with my name on it. Have you seen these things? They're amazing! They can squeeze an entire movie onto a single CD! I swear, after seeing one at Best Buy the other day, I wanted to go straight home and throw our VCR in the garbage! The only thing better than a DVD player would be a DVD player with a Patrick Swayze movie in it all cued up and ready to go! (Rowrr, rowrr!)

There's also a great T-shirt I saw at Spencer Gifts. It says, "I'm A Shopaholic In A 12-Step Program. Steps 1 Through 11: Shop. Step 12: Get Drunk After You See Your Credit-Card Bill." My God, whoever came up with that shirt must be a regular reader of my column! Anyway, I've just got to have that thing!

Now, you Jeanketeers out there know that I have a terminal case of Precious Momentsitis, and there's a figurine I'm just dying for. It's a little girl who's about to set a dessert in her heart-shaped cupboard, only to find a darling kitten in it! It's called–what else?–"You Have A Special Place In My Heart." Well, that figurine sure has a special place in mine! (Only problem is, it would also have a special place in my wallet... to the tune of $55!)

I'm also constantly seeing things I want in the dozens of catalogs I get in the mail each month. I really like those miniature indoor water fountains they sell now. They're supposed to alleviate stress and relax you. And, seeing how hectic my life has been lately, I could really use one! I was trying to persuade hubby Rick to buy one since he's always so uptight, but he just said, "They look Oriental. They're probably Chinese water-torture machines designed to drive Americans insane." (Boy, way to prove my point, Rick!)

Okay, okay, I admit it. I have champagne tastes. Jean Teasdale always wants nothing but the best. As my mother, from whom I am now estranged, likes to say, "The moment Jean has a dollar in her pocket, she'll find a way to spend it!" Well, I may have had a lot of Grinches to contend with this year, but that doesn't mean I've lost my belief in Santa Claus!

I don't often admit this to people, but I still believe in Santa Claus. Not in him literally existing, but in the belief that the holidays are a time for magic, and that people will get rewarded for trying their best. Call me an incurable optimist, but it does happen. In fact, it just happened to me. This morning, I was taking my winter coat out of storage and, upon reaching into the pocket, I pulled out a real sight for sore eyes: a $20 bill! And this is one $20 bill that Grinch Rick and his austerity plan will never get, because I'm going out right now and buying one of those hilarious singing bass. They've been out for months now and, darn it, I deserve one!

Oh, don't worry: Rick is on my shopping list, too. After all, 'tis better to give than to receive, right? Only, I don't think he should get one of those inflatable NFL chairs he wants so much. No, I think a gift-wrapped cinnabar candle from Fashion Bug will do just fine. They're 50 percent off right now, and with my employee discount, it'll cost practically nothing. Rick will be proud of my frugality, I'm sure!

(Ain't I a stinker?!?)