CONTINUING a tradition, the annual dialogue between God and Your Favorite Columnist.
GOD: How you doing, Sonny?
YFC: Not so hot, as you know.
GOD: Got the blues, Sonny?
YFC: Kind of, and please stop calling me Sonny.
GOD: OK, kid.
YFC: I don't care for that, either.
GOD: People often get mad with God. It's OK. I can take it - and still forgive.
YFC: I've got the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary praying for me - they're friends of the Geator and I send them a check because that's all he's ever asked of me - I got a couple of rabbis on my side, plus a Muslim friend or two.
GOD: You're quite the ecumenical kid, aren't you?
YFC: No one owns the franchise on good or evil.
GOD: It's taken you a while to reach that level of enlightenment.
YFC: Maybe I picked it up in Thailand. I talked to Buddha.
GOD: Buddha! He's so lame.
GOD: Just kiddding. Buddha's a cool dude. What happened to your sense of humor? I gave you that instead of math skills.
YFC: So that's why I can't work out percentages.
GOD: You don't have to, just use your iPhone calculator.
YFC: My iPhone has a calculator?
GOD: You want to talk about your bad year?
YFC: Not here. I kind of blame you.
GOD: Whoa! When people do bad things, kid, that's on them. I show them the light, but they have free will.
YFC: Was free will such a hot idea?
GOD: Now that you mention it . . . I'm infallible, but some things have unintended consequences.
YFC: Glad you can admit it.
GOD: So, what are you doing tomorrow night, kid?
YFC: Is that your indirect way of asking about Hanukkah?
GOD: I'm trying to be delicate, man. And have you guys finally agreed on how to spell it? Now you're using a double "k." It's like Finnish, for crying out loud.
YFC: First time in a long time I'll light the candles alone. Two neighbors, Michael and Harriet, have invited me to dinner.
GOD: Baked ham? Just kidding.
YFC: Brisket. And friendship.
GOD: You'll have a good time. How about Christmas?
YFC: I sent all the cards out, but first time in a long time, no gifts for spouse because there is no spouse. I sent the kids their checks, but I kind of miss buying presents for someone.
GOD: You do have an option.
YFC: She and I once agreed to make donations to each others' charities instead of buying gifts. That lasted until she changed her mind.
GOD: And so, now?
YFC: You're hinting, right? Instead of pouring money into personal gifts, I can make donations to charities.
GOD: That's what this season is supposed to be all about.
YFC: A lot of people are hurting. People are hungry, they've lost their jobs, they've lost their homes, they've lost their hope.
GOD: That's why I'm here, kid. I'm here, for you, and everyone.
YFC: There's one more thing.
YFC: Someone I know - a good man, an Army veteran, a huge Phillies fan - is fighting cancer and it's not going well. How could you . . .
GOD: That's the hardest thing I'm asked. Explaining these things is like you talking quantum physics with your cat.
YFC: I don't understand.
GOD: You just proved my point.
YFC: See what you can do, OK?
GOD: For you, and everyone else in pain, 2012 will be better.
GOD: Look at a dollar. It says: "In God We Trust."