In Day No. 8 of Cathy’s 12 Days Before Christmas Countdown, it’s time to look at the original holiday-simplification guide, “Unplug the Christmas Machine.” Even though it’s almost 20 years old, this book remains the signature how-to for scaling back and cutting down. But you’ll find more here than tips on re-using wrapping paper and getting decorations out of your own backyard. In fact, the rest of the title says it all: “A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back in the Season.” Authors Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli show you how to identify and make time for what’s truly important to your own family’s holiday celebrations and gives you permission to ditch the rest. Isn’t that the kind of Christmas we all want? And we’re talking real-life here. For instance, the authors warn you that while deciding to forgo massive present-opening on Dec. 25 could be a good thing and spiritually satisfying, you might find yourselves sitting around staring at each other without anything else to do. Awkward! And while it reads a bit dated — it was written, after all, before laptops, cell phones and Blackberries became essential family tools — the core message still is relevant: To get the most out of Christmas, you’ve got to regain control of it. It might be too late for this year — you’ve already gotten all your Christmas chores done for this year, haven’t you? — but reward yourself by getting a head start on Christmas 2009. More good news? You won’t derail your new holiday frugality when you buy this book because as an older paperback, it’s only about $10 at most online booksellers — less if you buy it used. It’ll be a $10 you’ll never regret (unlike the $10 I spent on Max Factor Lipfinity Lipstick Sweet 55, but who knew?). Check back on Christmas Countdown Day No. 7 for one of the best online sites I’ve found for Christmas shopping.