Heaton: A 'Raymond' Christmas Tale

12/24/2003 10:50AM

Because of work commitments, which included playing opposite Jeff Daniels in the TNT remake of Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl" (airing Jan. 16), Patricia Heaton missed her "Everybody Loves Raymond" costar Doris Roberts's annual "Christmas Greed" party this year, the Emmy-winning actress tells PEOPLE.

"Last year my husband and I went, and I usually buy something that I want – I believe it was 'Steve Wonder's Greatest Hits,'" says Heaton, 45, explaining that the shindig's gift exchange practically turns into a blood sport.

"Another time I bought a great cooking pan that I really wanted. You have to work with whomever you come with to get what you want. Somebody always brings some horrible garden gnome that you get stuck with. And there is always some golf stuff that comes from Ray (Romano)."

Once the guests and gifts are assembled, Heaton explains, the real wheeling and dealing kicks in. "It gets very brutal," she says.

As for what the others get stuck with, Heaton recalls with a slight smirk, "Last year Brad Garrett ended up with (a) bra and panties from Victoria's Secret. He acted like he didn't want them, but we all know better. (The wardrobe department) tells me everything, and I know what he wears behind those big-and-tall-guy sweaters."

As for the question on viewers' holiday wish lists – Will "Raymond" return next year or will this really be the final season? – Heaton tells PEOPLE, "Ray and Phil (Rosenthal, the producer) are trying to figure out if we have enough stories to continue. We've had eight memorable seasons ... I think we'll know in January."

And her stance on the issue? "I certainly would like to do another year, but I want it to be wonderful."

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