It's the little things people would like to have for the holidays this year: a job, peace on Earth, parole for the old man.
Or, let's say, $20 million.
They're all there on the nation's wish list, this ABC News poll finds, alongside the new bikes, the cameras, the Kindles, Nooks and iPods, the "pair of boots" and warm coats, sewing machines, crock pots, laptops, cameras, vacuum cleaners, the "perfumes, always" – and the odder ones.
"A trolling motor for my boat."
"Sod for the back yard."
"A leg stretcher."
"A plasma cutter." (It's a metal cutting torch. We checked.)
"A barley smoker."
"A work permit."
"A supersonic jet."
"A submachine gun."
And what would you like for the holidays?
Combining answers, hopes for a car, truck, motorcycle or automotive accessory lead the list, mentioned by 10 percent of Americans – compared with a peak of 16 percent in 2005, perhaps indicating frugality in the current economy, Detroit's woes or a bit of both.
But there's far more flavor in the open-ended responses; just in the automotive category, for instance, we've got everything from "a new Crown Victoria" (bad news: since 2008 it's only been available for fleet sales) to "a Ferrari" (model unspecified, but it's a cool $397,000 for the top-of-the-line 599 GTB, loaded, with a custom paint job), a Dodge Viper, the obligatory Lexuses, Corvettes and Harleys and a "new Ford F-150 with silver chrome everywhere."
On the human side, how about "a husband, or a date," says an older woman in New Jersey, ready to negotiate. Forget the commitment; let's have "a sexy young man," says a 50-year-old North Carolinian. One woman wants her "marriage fixed." And those whose relationships did endure speak to the power of lifelong commitment; several widows and widowers alike ask, touchingly, for more time with their departed spouse.
The range of answers speaks to the hopes, dreams, priorities and personality types that make this country what it is. For everyone who wants a flat screen TV (and there are plenty), others go all gooey: "To be with my family. There isn't anything I need that you buy," says an 82-year-old Tennessee woman. And a 29-year-old dad in South Carolina just hopes that "my little boy gets what he wants."
Family does figure large this time of year. "My whole family around" is the gift of choice for a 53-year-old Wisconsin man. Having "all the kids get together" does it for an Iowa man. "For our family to have a wonderful holiday," says a 29-year-old Louisiana woman. An 18-year-old woman in Ohio's got a tougher challenge: she wants "my dad to come home from jail."
The economy, naturally, is an issue for many. Plenty hope for jobs; for bills, tuition or the mortgage paid; "a Social Security check"; "a little more stability in our economy." Money requests run the gamut from "gas money" to a range of ambitions: $50, $1,000, an oddly specific $2,300, "a big stack of $1,000 bills," "a million bucks," and the top bidder, $20 million, if you please, for a 24-year-old woman in New York, where living costs apparently are high.
A 47-year-old North Carolina woman has a charitable purpose in mind: "A thousand dollars to give away to the children in Africa." A 32-year-old Texas woman wants "to give a child that is less fortunate a good Christmas." A 75-year-old Pennsylvanian, on the other hand, has problems aplenty right here at home: "enough food" tops her holiday wish list.
Others move far up the luxury scale. Why just money when you can have "money and wine," which takes us to "a wine rack" for the practical minded and "a bottle of French champagne" for the party-minded. A middle-aged New York woman wants "a massage every week."
Holidays make the list – "a trip to Thailand or Hawaii," a European vacation, a "cruise, 5-day" or "an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation" would do the trick. Headed the other way, a 49-year-old Washington man is in the mood for "a trip home."
Others want their own home, a new home or home repairs. A 24-year-old Louisianan's ready for "my own place." With the home, of course, comes the lawn: "I want a new John Deere mower from Santa Claus," declares a 64-year-old Michigander.
While some work on the grass, others reach for the stars. "Make it to heaven" is the wish of a 44-year-old Louisiana man. Others think about peace down here, in a variety of configurations: "world peace," "peace on Earth," "peace of mind," "peace and quiet." A woman with notably mixed ambitions yearns both for "peace on Earth… and something in red, like a beautiful red sweater."
Politics and policy come into it for some. "I would like to get our country settled down," says an Indiana woman. A 60-year-old man wants "all the soldiers home" for the holidays. A 50-year-old in Minnesota wants "affordable health care coverage," a Kentucky woman requests "another president" for the holidays; a Michigan man wants the "national debt in the United States gone."
Others are show far more equanimity. An older gentleman in West Virginia has no wants whatsoever. "I've got guns I hunt with, a pretty wife, a pickup truck, and two chauffeurs," he says. "I have everything I need."
And to close there's a younger fellow in Washington state, just starting down the road: "I would like to have a healthy baby born," he says. "I'm expecting on Christmas."
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 18-22, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults including landline and cell-phone respondents. The results have a 4-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Field work by Social Science Research Solutions at ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.