It's sad that the December holidays have degenerated into a tradeoff of lists. People just pick out items that they want and hand out lists, which everyone else has to compare to make sure the same present didn't get bought twice. And in tough cases, there are gift certificates or cold hard cash. Either way, in the end, people generally get the specific things they asked for, with few surprises.
Where is the "giving" spirit in this?
For years now, I've made it a point to pick out my own presents for people based on what I know of people and what I think they'd like. My reasoning is that if I don't know them well enough to be able to do that, I don't need to be getting them any presents.
In the big picture, it's just a general tradeoff of funds...a big spending frenzy that has very little actual meaning. Now, at long last, I understand why, for almost two decades, my father has told everyone not to get him anything. It's simply more efficient to spend one's money on the things one wants, rather than introduce a needless middleman or two or ten or twenty and pump the total spending up to insane levels.