For those who have given up on finding a Nintendo Wii, and can’t quite afford a 65-inch plasma TV, it’s still possible to give a meaningful gift at Christmas.

Try forgiveness.

Forgive the trash man for crushing your garbage can, the mechanic who sold you a complete exhaust system when you only needed a muffler, the hair stylist who made you a platinum blonde instead of a strawberry blonde.

Forgive the slow-pay, the no-pay, the Chapter Elevens, the bankrupt, the guy who borrowed five bucks and forgot to pay you back.

Forgive teachers who couldn’t make it clear to you, doctors who didn’t give you enough time, lawyers who charged you for too much time, and the entire judicial and health care systems. You might even forgive “managed care,” if it doesn’t manage to kill you first.

FORGIVE YOUR NEIGHBORS for having rotten kids, a better lawn and more outdoor Christmas lights; for letting their dog run loose, parking in “your” space, and making noise when you're trying to sleep.

Forgive your friends for being busy, for sending you e-mail instead of calling, for putting someone else first.

Forgive those who lied to you, or told you the truth, and it hurt.

Forgive the pessimists and the optimists, the angry and the arrogant, the losers and the loners, the incompetents and those who lack ambition, the surly clerks and the ones who can’t speak English or make change.

Forgive the social worker who no longer cares, the bureaucrat who puts policy ahead of people, the politicians who take from the poor, who don’t vote, in order to give to the comfortable, who write them checks.

Forgive the editor for not calling you back, for not solving your problem, for not being perfect.

Forgive the powerful, the powerless, and your successful competitors.  Forgive the utilities, the cable company and your Internet provider.

EMPLOYEES, forgive your bosses. Bosses, forgive your employees. Self-employed, forgive your customers.  Unemployed, forgive the persons who restructured, downsized or outsourced you out of your job and the people who won't even interview you because you’re 45.

Forgive your mother-in-law, your father-in-law, your brother-in-law, your sister-in-law.  They didn't ask you to be part of their family.

Forgive grandma for meddling, for forgetting, for being set in her ways.

Forgive grandpa for bad driving, for his rough beard, for not paying attention.

Forgive your ex-wife for hating you, for looking better than ever, for dating, for marrying a man with more money, for looking happy.

Forgive your ex-husband for ignoring you, for losing weight, for being successful, for marrying a younger woman, for taking her on vacations he never took you.

FORGIVE YOUR SISTER for borrowing your clothes, for being slimmer, prettier and conceited, for being your father’s favorite, for flirting with your man.

Forgive your brother for teasing, for swiping your Black Eyed Peas CD, for getting taller than you, for being your mother's favorite, for moving away.

Forgive your daughter for not changing the cat litter or doing the dishes, for playing her music too loud, for too much makeup and not enough common sense, for horrid taste in boyfriends, for being selfish and inconsiderate.

Forgive your son for not cleaning his room or taking out the trash or walking the dog or picking up the tools or being reasonable or respectful or responsible.

FORGIVE YOUR GROWN children for being critical and manipulative, for seldom calling, for asking about your life insurance, but not your health insurance.

Forgive your stepmother for being loved by your father, for trying to be nice, for giving up.

Forgive your stepfather for marrying your mother, for trying to be boss, for giving up.

Forgive your stepchild for being suspicious and angry and arrogant and for withholding his or her love.

Forgive your mother for being cold, or too mushy, for not understanding, for working and being too busy, for sticking her nose in your business.

Forgive your father for not caring, or caring too much, for being cheap, or broke, for always being at work, for not being able to make everything turn out all right.

Forgive the person who was going to marry you, but changed his or her mind; the guy who remembered your birthday, but forgot to tell you he was married; the gal who accepted those expensive gifts, and then decided you weren’t her type.

FORGIVE YOUR WIFE for being extravagant and tired, for lack of attention, for placing the kids first, for forgetting your birthday, for not wanting sex last night, for putting on a little weight, for not being your mother, for being PMS and watching QVC.

Forgive your husband for not earning enough money, for being thoughtless and boring, for slowing down, for not shaving on Saturdays, for losing his hair, for beer breath, for forgetting your anniversary, for sneaking a glance at that young woman behind the cosmetics counter.

If there are some people you do not need to forgive for anything, for goodness sake, thank them.

And if you know of anyone who is alone this Christmas, give ’em a call. 

Herald Editor Emeritus Joe Zelnik died March 3, 2008. The last revision to his popular Christmas column was made for the 2007 Christmas edition. The column first appeared in 1983.