Gifts. Surveying my haul and that of my boys at about noon on Christmas Day, I was envious of my sons. In my stack were the typical middle-aged man accoutrements - a dress shirt, cologne, some booze, and a few cigars. But they had the real goodies - NFL jerseys, video games and Nerf basketballs. The scene reminded me of Christmas circa 1974, when my parents got me a complete Bernie Parent goalie uniform. So I made a mental note to ask my wife next year for what the boys got this year.

Gift cards. If you aren't going to get me a real gift, I'll take the cash, thank you. Gift cards do nothing but tell me where you think I should spend your otherwise unrestrained allowance. Money gifts should be one form of "personal choice" we can all support in 2008.

Tips. If it's true that "they aren't allowed to accept a tip," why do they have pre-printed thank-you cards?

Song. On Christmas Eve, I listened to a radio station that played nothing but holiday music. It gave me an opportunity to sample and compare new voices singing old classics to old voices singing old classics. Josh Groban, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Manheim Steamroller, and Luther Vandross mixed with Bing Crosby and Perry Como. Still the king? Nat King Cole. You just can't improve on his "The Christmas Song" from 1961, and I doubt anyone ever will.

Movies. Ditto for "It's a Wonderful Life." Pity the kids being raised thinking Tim Allen as Santa or Will Farrell as an elf makes for a Christmas classic. Funny movies, to be sure, but nothing approaching Jimmy Stewart in the Frank Capra standard.

Lights. I note that the communist-like encroachment of white lights continues. From Mullica Hill to Manayunk, they have overtaken the fat, bright, gaudy, colored lights of our youth. We need the crowd hell-bent on protecting the manger in the town square and the religious carols in the school performance to turn their attention to the proliferation of white lights and reverse this trend before it ruins Christmas as we have known it.

Cards. We got a bunch. That's because we sent a bunch. (You know how that works.) This year's award winner once again came from a Center City lawyer who fashions himself as an amateur political cartoonist named Paul Lauricella. This year, he depicted his entire family in the bathroom stall made famous by Sen. Larry Craig. He had Craig there, too. What it has to do with Christmas I am not sure, but I do know it is not a good thing to be a celebrity who turns up in one of his cards, as was apparent when in 1999, he sent me a card featuring Mumia Abu-JaClaus.

Weather. It's hard to laugh at Al Gore when, at noon on Christmas Day, we're playing touch football in the backyard in light sweatshirts.

Sleep. I'm off for a few days, which should mean an opportunity to sleep later than my normal 3 a.m. revelry. Why is it that when my alarm sounds in the middle of the night starting a routine workday, I know I could easily jump back in bed and resume sleeping, yet when I have the chance to snooze late, I can never do it? I think I have a solution. Tomorrow I am going to set my alarm for 3 a.m., get up, convince myself I should skip work, and jump back into bed. I'm hoping that gets me to 7 a.m.

New Year's Eve. I failed in attaining most of my New Year's resolutions set forth last Dec. 31. That list had the usual assortment of weight and temper-related aspirations. Still, I have a chance to make one thing on the list: that is, to be awake when 2007 becomes 2008.

I made that resolution as I drifted off to sleep at about 10 p.m. last New Year's Eve. *

Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5:30-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Read him Sundays in the Inquirer. Contact him via the Web at