Looking through the newspaper last week, I noticed that the suggested gifts for the woman who has everything include fancy scarves, elegant jewelry, expensive colognes, and diamond-studded bracelets.

One of my colleagues has come up with an even better idea. She suggests that people, instead, provide Christmas for the family that has little or nothing - in the name of the person who has everything.I like it.

The Jolly Old Elf is going to be sliding down chimneys in less than a week. We all know his prerequisites: He visits children who have been good during the past year and leaves them presents.

But several programs, including the Deseret News Santa's Helping Hand, are reporting that an extraordinary number of children have not yet been matched with sponsors willing to provide them Christmas gifts.

I hope that changes. At the end of last week, the Deseret News had more than 150 children who had not been "adopted" - children in more than 50 families. And while there's still time to provide that Christmas, the longer people wait the harder it will be to ensure that no one goes without.

I'm glad I won't have to explain to the children: "Yes, you've been good. But Santa Claus doesn't come to poor little boys and girls."

Adopting a family has become a treasured part of Christmas for my household.

I enjoy being able to pat myself on the back for doing something for someone else.

As I was growing up, Christmas had a magic that no other occasion could equal, and I hate to think of generations growing up who learn to dread it as a time of disappointment and hurt, rather than a season of friendliness and love.

Mostly, I treasure it because I can add some caring to someone else's life while being thankful that I can do it - that my life allows me the freedom to give.

I agree with the millions of people who lament that Christmas has become so commercial, that the true meaning has been lost somewhere along the way. But the fact is, no little kid is going to consider himself lucky because he didn't get toys or clothes or books, because he was saved from commercialism.

And we are talking about children who desperately need those clothes and toys and books. These are not spoiled children who already have so many toys that they can't decide what to play with first. The applications for a helping hand are from families who generally are trying to raise two to five children on well under $500 a month, which must also be stretched to provide a roof and food and warmth.

Friends have offered me a number of reasons either valid or bizarre why they can't give at Christmas time.

I've been told that charity begins at home; you should take care of your own children first. I agree, but my parents gave me the greatest gift when they showed me the joy of sharing with others.

One friend had a truly rotten experience with Christmas giving. She and her young son provided Christmas for a woman with two small children. The woman looked over the things they had selected and paid for with love and care and basically said, "Is that all we get?"

It took the joy out of the experience as surely as plunging a knife into a balloon removes the air.

It was unfair, unkind and unnecessary of the recipient. I could only tell my friend that I've never had that happen, that most families are truly pleased and grateful and fun to help. And I could point out that at least the children had Christmas, even if they didn't have a polite mother. Without the bounty my friend provided, the children, not the woman, would have been hurt. And they hadn't said or done anything wrong.

If nothing else, my friend and her son could enjoy knowing they tried to spread some cheer. The woman who wasn't satisfied was the one who lost out.

So here's my Christmas gift-giving thought: Adopt a family. You can select a family over the telephone: 237-2139.

It's easy. It'll make you feel good and bring cheer to people who could really use it.

And face it, if you're like me, you haven't finished shopping yet anyway, have you?