This holiday season is going to be one interesting son of a gun.

I say this because as I write this, I have relatives already planning for the Christmas holiday and Halloween still has not taken place yet. The way I see it, there should be no red and green until the orange and black has had its time to shine in the darkness.

Now, typically I am a bit of a grouch when it comes to the Christmas holiday. I do not have anything against people who decorate their homes or offices with ornaments or figurines, but there is a ban on such items in my apartment. And it's nothing against the holiday - I really just do not like decorating my space. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say?

So, back to my original statement - this holiday season is going to be interesting. "Why is that," you may (or may not) be asking? Well, the economy, of course.

As it stands now, the unemployment rate in our nation is fast approaching the 10 percent mark, a figure that's been unheard of during the past few decades. That means there are less people who have money in their pockets and are out shopping in our nation's stores.

While it could be argued that our economy is on the rebound, one would be na•ve to believe the problem has totally resolved itself. It hasn't. Jobs are still being lost faster than they are being replaced and the unemployment rate still continues to rise.

The credit market is just as bad. Only two years ago, I was able to secure a loan to buy my first car. I have had cars before, but this was the first one I bought and paid for on my own.

Now, it's nearly impossible for me to so much as get a refinancing on my credit card or a new line of credit. The rejection letters are getting to be so numerous I am reminded of my days as a failed Casanova in high school.

It is for this reason that I have to wonder about what kind of holiday season people are expecting. Are people expecting to see a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree? Are you thinking about not just one gift you know you are getting, but rather the four or five you are hoping to receive instead?

I know how great it is to see that mound of wrapping paper and streamers sitting on your lap, just begging to be torn to shreds so that you can get to the awesome prize within. It is a feeling that used to make us, as kids, nearly gnaw our fingers clean off our hands while the clock sluggishly rolled along to midnight or the early morning.

But this year, with everyone hurting in his or her wallets and purses, let us try to take a different tactic with one another. How about instead of those four or five gifts, we give one nice gift that will serve a purpose beyond entertainment?

If you insist on buying more than one gift, then think about donating those extra gifts to the Toys-for-Tots campaign or the Salvation Army. Non-profit organizations across the country are seeing a dramatic drop-off in donations, so why not use this holiday season to help them get back on track?

And if money is so tight that donations are an issue, then volunteering time at a soup kitchen or at a church is also a means of giving back, and its free. The only cost is a couple of hours of your time.

But these are just my ideas. Human beings are capable of coming up with their own thoughts and ideas, some of which no one may have ever thought of.

My question to you, though, is this - what idea will you come up with?

Looks like the holiday season may be more interesting than I thought.

Tim Olmeda is the News Editor for the Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at tim.olmeda@recordstar.com