Kennedy: 'Mania-cure' and other simple gifts

The Salvation Army's "Fill a Backpack" effort asks givers to provide supplies that could be of use to a homeless person.

Before the Thanksgiving turkey even got cold at our house, talk had turned to Christmas.

"So what do you want?" I asked my 12-year-old son.

"One of those things at the mall," he said. "... Oh, I can't think of what you call it."

photo Mark Kennedy

"OK, something at the mall," I said. "Well, that doesn't narrow it down much, kiddo. Can you use your big brain and give me a better hint?"

"You know, one of those Christmas tree things where you buy gifts for a kid," he said. "That's what I want to do with some of the money I've saved."

For several days he had been musing about buying gifts for disadvantaged kids. At 12, he has sort of outgrown toys.