Ho-ho-ho! Wait till you hear about the gifts I gave some of America's power elites for Christmas.
To each of our Congress critters, I sent my fondest wish that, from now on, they receive the exact same income, health care and pensions that we average citizens get. If they receive only the American average, it might make them a bit more humble — and less cavalier about ignoring the needs of regular folks.
To the stockings of GOP leaders who've so eagerly debased themselves to serve the madness of Donald Trump, I added individual spritzer bottles of fragrances like "Essence of Integrity" and "Eau de Self-Respect" to help cover up their stench. And in the stockings of Democratic congressional leaders, I put "Spice of Viagra" and "Bouquet du Grassroots" to stiffen their spines and remind them of whom they represent.
For America's CEOs, my gift is a beautifully boxed, brand-new set of corporate ethics. It's called the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Going to pollute someone's neighborhood? Then you have to live there, too. Going to slash wages and benefits? Then slash yours as well. Going to move your manufacturing to sweatshops in China? Then put your office right inside the worst sweatshop. Executive life won't be as luxurious, but CEOs would glow with a new purity of spirit.
To the Wall Street hedge-fund hucksters who've conglomerated, plundered and degraded hundreds of America's newspapers, I've sent copies of "Journalism for Dummies" and offered jobs for each of them in their stripped-down Dickensian newsrooms. Good luck.
And what better gift to the Trump family — Donald, Ivanka and Jared, Eric, Donnie Jr. and the whole nest of them — than to wish that they live with each other constantly and permanently. No, really. Each of you deserves it.
Yes, I have finally mastered the art of finding perfect gifts for people on my list — gifts that rise above crass commercialism and are genuinely appreciated by the people who receive them. I wholeheartedly recommend such gift-giving to you.
For example, I gave a goat to my mother, Lillie, for her birthday, even naming the animal after her. Although she was raised on a farm, Momma was 103 on her last birthday and really didn't really want to tend to a goat — but she loved getting it. That's because the beloved critter wasn't delivered to her, but to an impoverished family in Nepal that desperately needs the nutritional, economic and life-affirming benefits that can flow from something as basic as a goat.
Her gift — which indeed will keep giving — was made possible by Heifer International, a terrific charitable organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, that works to end global poverty one animal at a time. Heifer publishes a gift catalogue that lets you and me make a donation and choose to send anything from a flock of baby chicks (for $20) to a water buffalo (for $250). Heifer International then places the animals with families around the world who put these living donations to work, lifting them from abject poverty. Not only does Heifer connect us to specific needs, but it also has teachers and development experts on staff who work directly with the recipients to... well, to make the gifts work.
There are dozens of good groups that offer such "gifts that matter." For example, one Christmas, my gift to Momma came from the catalogue of The Nature Conservancy. She became the symbolic "owner" of two acres of land in Appalachia that are part of the group's conservation efforts.
For her — and for me — this kind of giving is a lot more satisfying (and a lot truer to the spirit of giving) than buying another "thing" that she didn't need. For information about these groups and more, go to www.CharityNavigator.org.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes "The Hightower Lowdown," a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.