Normally, I send expensive Christmas presents to all my news sources, but I've decided commercialism like that undermines the holiday spirit, so I've changed tactics.

This year instead of plying my contacts with gaudy merchandise that would cheapen our relationship, I've decided to make a spiritual wish for each of them, a hope for something natural and good that they can cherish at some time over the coming year.

For my skiing friends I'm wishing for 20 inches of fresh-packed powder and a weekend at Snowshoe in West Virginia with no lift lines.

For the bird-watchers, a black rail and a red-cockaded woodpecker, both in the same day.

For ice-fishermen, a foot of hard crystal over a 30-foot-deep hole chock full of pickerel and yellow perch.

For my waterskiers (the ones still talking to me after I ridiculed the sport in a column) glassy calm and not a jellyfish in the water.

For duck-hunters, a sky dark with blacks and mallards, the way they say it was in the old days. And for goose hunters more days like last year and fewer like this year.

For my mountain bass fishing friends, a year's supply of West Virginia Jitterbugs (them's minnows, folks).

For my largemouth bass-fishing buddies, a flippin' stick, some buzzin' gears, a hawg-handle, a box of jig 'n' pigs and jelly worms, a 200-horse Mercury and a weekend in Eufaula, Ala., to enjoy it all.

For cross-country skiers, a calm, moonlit night and a track in the snow from Chain Bridge to Great Falls along the C&O Canal towpath.

For bird-hunters, a hedgerow from here to forever and a setter that points and holds steady to wing and shot.

For Bay fishermen, two acres of 10-pound breaking blues with not another boat in sight.

For Bay sailors, a northwester all day Saturday, to ride the wind from Annapolis to Oxford, and a southeaster Sunday to scud home on. Also, a berth on Running Tide, the venerable queen of the Chesapeake racing fleet.

For Potomac sailors, a dredging crew to scoop up the mud that's destroying the river and a cool day in August. Just one.

For the boys at Fletcher's Boathouse, the return of American shad and a day during the rockfish blitz when no customers show up, so the hired help can wet a line.

For the folks at Fort McNair Yacht Basin, a boat-launching ramp that cleans itself, since no one else seems interested in doing it.

For watermen, a cascade of crabs, a plethora of oysters, a multitude of mano clams, nets full of rockfish and perch and a market for all of them.

For turkey hunters, scratchin's everywhere.

To the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, a trail improvement weekend where a crowd shows up and everyone works. For the Capital, Wanderbirds and Center hiking clubs, miles to go before you sleep.

For the Canoe Cruisers Association, river levels between four and five feet on the Little Falls gauge all summer. And to fearless kayakers a week during the summer when rubber rafts are banned from the mighty Youghiougheny, leaving the hard boats to themselves.

To the unheralded Washington area slalom canoeists and kayakers who won the world championship in Bala, Wales last summer, a little recognition.

To rabbit hunters, the perfect beagle. For deer hunters, a light snow opening day.

For fly fishermen, a 20-inch native brown trout sipping mayflies in an unoccupied pool on the Yellow Breeches.

For power-boaters and four-wheel-drivers, a gasoline pump. For ice-boaters, life insurance. For hang-gliders, a parachute. For C&O Canal carp fishermen, the perfect mulberry hatch.

These things I wish for you, my colleagues of the outdoors, and also that one day we might meet in some quiet, unspoiled place and share for a moment the perfection that is nature.

Happy holidays.