The Christmas advertising juggernaut is set at maximum warp speed, producing a 24-hour-a-day onslaught of sales pitches for everything from SpongeBob boxer shorts to HD widescreen TVs.

Thank goodness advertisers haven't figured out a way to invade my dreams!

Or have they?

Anyway, if you're anything like me, you've probably entered self-preservation mode, circling the wagons around yourself in an effort to ward of the insidious efforts of the ad industry; singing "Deck the Halls" at the top of your lungs to drown out the incessant message of "Buy! Buy! Buy!"

"Hypocrisy!" you yell?

Well, I do work for "The Media," and this newspaper, like any other printed publication, earns profits by including advertising, flyers, circulars, catalogs and other inserts designed to promote and sell our clients' goods.

However, I don't work for the Pilot's advertising department; I work in the editorial department, which means I don't have to worry so much about biting the hands that feeds me. Besides, most people don't spend their hard-earned 75 cents to buy the Pilot for important community-related news, but for the ads. Right?

But I digress.

This holiday season, anywhere we go, everywhere we turn, we are deluged with advertising come-ons. Christmas has become extravagant beyond belief!

What's a poor journalist with a limited income supposed to do?

I could turn off the TV, radio and Internet, but then what would I have to live for?

The trick is to be frugal. Spending money isn't a bad thing. Spending a lot of money on things that will soon be relegated to the darkest corners of our closets is.

So, I humbly offer a few tips on how to be frugal this holiday season.

First, send your money to me! (I promise I will spend it frugally).

Seriously ...

andbull;Determine how much money you have to spend on Christmas presents and stick to the budget.

andbull;Resist impulse buying and buy only what's on your list of well thought out gift ideas.

andbull;Make your own presents: a personalized family photo album for grandma, a home-cooked meal for a neighbor, a coupon to your spouse for 10 free foot rubs.

andbull;Involve children in the planning and buying of gifts so they gain a better understanding of money management.

Perhaps, most important, don't get caught up in the whole "keeping up with Joneses" mentality. Christmas is not about who has the tallest tree, best light display or who gives the most expensive gifts. It's not about SpongeBob boxer shorts and widescreen TVs, and it's certainly not about who can rack up the highest credit card debt.

One of the best ways to fend off the tenacious holiday advertising is to find and cherish your own personal Christmas spirit.

I'm building mine each day leading up to Dec. 25 as I watch my 8-year-old daughter get excited about the holiday. She loves to listen to Christmas songs on the radio, decorate the Christmas tree with her mother, and she eagerly awaits the upcoming visits by her Uncle Jim and Grandpa and Nana.

She's not immune to the commercial world we live in (she has quite the extensive wish list this year), but she still holds dear the true spirit of Christmas.

There's hope for mankind after all.