Are we officially in a recession? After all, if it walks like a recession, talks like a recession, and quacks like a recession?

But one nice thing is shopping during the holiday period - smaller crowds and desperate retailers.

Me: "Say, how much is this camera?"

Him: "How much you willing to pay?"

Another nice thing is giving out gifts that cost me nothing at all. That's even better than eggnog and fruitcake - gifts you usually can get back because nobody wants them.

Of course, some on my list have been naughty and some have been nice. Check it out:

Arena football - A 2010 calendar.

Kimbo Slice - A night watchman job in a doughnut factory.

Tiger Woods - Good health.

PGA Tour - Tiger Woods.

Usain Bolt - A lifetime supply of Chicken McNuggets.

Roger Clemens - Don't know. I misremember.

Eli Manning - A 50-50 family split on commercials.

Michael Vick - A DVD of

Marley & Me.

Detroit Lions fans - A $25 billion government bailout. Not for the team; for the fans.

Big Brown - A Belmont do-over.

Barry Bonds - Uh, who? Name doesn't ring a bell.

Tampa Bay Rays - A minimum of 5,000 more fans per game.

Dwight Howard - One hundred consecutive successful free throws.

NASCAR - A shorter season and cheaper gas.

The rest of us - The cheaper gas.

Serena Williams - A sport we care about.

John Daly - A gift card from Hooters or AA.

Notre Dame football - Relevance.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - An instructional class on the Heimlich maneuver.

Jets' headline heat

How bad will it be for the East Rutherford Jets, quarterback Brett Favre, and especially coach Eric Mangini if they lose to Miami (and quarterback Chad Pennington) on Sunday, failing to make the playoffs? Good barometers are three back-page headlines by the area tabloids Monday:

"Win or else!" - New York Post

"Win or take a hike!" - New York Daily News

And my personal favorite for its subtlety: "Cowher Power" - Newsday

Nobody asked but . . .

Hooray! The dreadful remake of

The Day the Earth Stood Still

had a 68 percent drop at the Week 2 box office. It's the worst film I've seen since

Battlefield Earth

.

What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? Answer: claustrophobic.

ESPN the Magazine put Pittsburgh Steelers defenders on its cover with the headline: "The Ball Stops Here." Uh, scoreboard, ESPN: Tennessee 31, Pittsburgh 14.

Why is Christmas just another day at the office? Answer: You do all the work, and the fat guy in the funny suit gets all the credit.

After gymnast Nastia Liukin said she was the tallest member of the U.S. team at 5-foot-3, Bob Costas showed surprising humor by saying, "I consider that almost lanky."

Which two bowl teams had opponents with the most combined victories against other Division I-A teams? That would be Florida (79) and Oklahoma (78). More proof they got it right.

Closing thought from brilliant humorist Erma Bombeck: "There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child."