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Merry us

Here are some holiday thoughts for the horseplayer in your life.

No CD's, please. There's one playable song on most CD's, the rest, noise. Though I will say that the Levon Helm CD I got myself as a present yesterday is nice, Dirt Farmer, that's the one. Shopping goes better when you get one present for yourself for every two you get for others.

No gift cards. Nothing says I'm too busy to mess with you quite the way a gift card does.

No voice-activated navigation systems that say: Make a left at Kansas. I have a paper map with all that material on it.

No bad holiday parties, please, please, please. Some are so bad, all you can do is plaster yourself with calories.

No wool sweater or heavy-duty coat. Winter in Moose Backside, Montana, only lasts what, three weeks to a month, anymore.

No magazines, as, beyond New York Magazine and Vanity Fair, they're all pretty much alike.

Nothing -- and this is very serious -- that needs potty-training; birds, on up. Anything alive, except house plants on down, is too personal to be a gift.

No house plants.

No horse-race-handicapping-system-books. We know more than they do. Or should. Or think we do.

No Mensa stuff. Intelligence is memory. Memory is inherited. We know as much as most Mensa people without having to be told.

No machines that purport to make, in six to 12 seconds, the best home-made latte ever. I have, in my basement, a collection of failed coffee and latte and cappuccino and espresso makers. It's like a history museum detailing the demise of the coffee-maker. Cracked tanks, rusted springs, warped hot pads, you name it, I've seen it break down. Say what you will about the smarminess of your average Starbucks ("And what might I get started for you?" "Well, something you'll finish, I hope."), the soy lattes are from heaven.

No framed pictures of me.

No framed pictures of, no offense, you.

No poster of a famous horse.

Nothing with Seabiscuit on it.

No -- and this is every bit as serious at the potty-training request above -- original written material; no poem, I beg you; no updated family journal, accompanied by drawings.

No HDTV.

Well, hang on to that thought a second; maybe a small high-def TV, sure, couple of little Bose speakers, if you must.

Here's the ideal gift for the horse player, number one in anybody's seasonal gift book: peace.

Peace, as in, time. Peace, as in, no company. No rules, no regulations, no deadlines, no reservations. No calls, no e-mail.

A week's worth of peace -- seven days times eight -- comes out to a total of 56 unobstructed hours for the year, to do with as you please at the horse races, live or on a screen, here or there or anywhere.

Peace and joy is all we ask, ever the perfect partner.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com