Dear Santa. PLEASE, please, please don't send me another pair of socks.

Or, for that matter, another pair of gloves. Or more kerchiefs. I say kerchiefs because I seem to remember that is how they were described when I started receiving hankies as Christmas presents.

I have so many now that if I started discarding them instead of washing them, I'd have enough to last me all year. And if I reached into my overstuffed sock drawer and pulled out a new pair it would still bear the label: "Happy Christmas, 1976 from Auntie Ettie.'

Auntie Ettie, by the way, has been dead for 20 years. I even have socks with my name in large letters (handy if you start to suffer from dementia). So, Santa, I already have enough socks to last me for the rest of my life -- if I live to be 100, that is.

I suppose most blokes of my age could relate stories like this. As we grew older and more irrelevant to the younger family we became increasingly dismissed at Christmas with a pair of socks, hankies or gloves.

As a result I have gloves for all seasons. I have gloves for driving (two pairs), gloves for gardening (six pairs), gloves for dressing up (four pairs), wool mitts for winter, wool gloves, leather gloves, mock leather gloves . . . I could go on. The only gloves I actually use are suede, lambswool-lined jobs I got from Marks and Sparks about 20 years ago which still feel like holding your hands in front of a warm fire. Yes, they were a Christmas present.

About 10 years ago it was discovered that I was partial to nuts. Within a few years I had enough to keep the squirrel population going.

But let's face it. Christmas has nothing to do with those of us past our sell-by date. It's a great time for kids. Coming up as a child in the Second World War years I still vividly remember the best Christmas present I ever had. It was a No 4 Meccano set. I thought it was so special I kept it for my own sons. And, in fact, I still have it today. It beat hands down the occasional board games, the metal soldiers, the bag of sweets (bought with carefully saved ration stamps) and the traditional fruit (no oranges or bananas in the war).

Fast forward to today when the kids want their own bedroom TV, a personal mobile phone or an electronic game console that costs as much as the deposit on my first house. And it can cost up to twenty quid just to visit Santa in his grotto. And that's not in Lapland.

To buy meaningful presents, we grandparents are forced into a new world of Christmas magic involving Aragog, Quidditch, Dumbledore and the Whomping Willow -- enough to drive us Harry Potty. We have to learn what Bionicles are, and characters with names like Banjo Kazooie, Zelda, Pikmin and Super Mario just to purchase a CD game costing as much as a holiday.

Well, on second thoughts, Santa, it had better be a pair of socks. They won't be able to afford anything else!