The Associated Press has dispatched its annual story on the current cost of giving the gifts enumerated in "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It is, you well know, among the holiday cliches to be deplored.

The economic information, meretricious as it is, is generated each year by PNC Wealth Management, which thus gets mentioned prominently. But even more than a free ad for a bank, the story is in its own category a kind of Platonic ideal in American journalism: a light holiday feature that is guaranteed to arrive and which requires absolutely no imagination or initiative.

A work of such moment should not be handled casually, so let's offer the Associated Press some guidelines for selecting the persons to be given this crucial assignment. I've made a start, but your suggestions are always so helpful.

The story of the cost of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" gifts should be assigned to:

A. The newest intern.

B. The correspondent who most grossly exceeded his expense account.

C. Whoever made the drunkest faux pas at last year's Christmas party.

D. The employee who did not take the hint after the transfer from New York City to Minot, N.D.