Those who know me know that I am a "list" person. I make lists: lists of things to do; lists of things I have done; lists of things I own. Lists of all sorts of things and of all sorts of lengths. Given that I am so much of a "list" person, you might think I would approve whole-heartedly of such things as Christmas and birthday lists. By that, I mean (as if you had not already realised) lists of things one would like to be given as presents. Just like wedding lists - or letters to Father Christmas. But no, I don't like them. I don't like to draw them up and I don't like the idea of other people drawing them up. I mentioned the Father Christmas letters we all used to write as children. (Whatever did we actually do with them? We surely didn't try stuffing them up the chimney?) "Dear Father Christmas, I would like a bike, a train set, a doll that cries and wets herself, Meccano, etc, etc, and I've been a good buy/girl." It all seems just a tad materialistic when its adults who are writing these letters, sorry, lists.
As for the person buying and giving the present, my thinking is that if they are sufficiently fond of the recipient, they will know the sort of thing the recipient would like and actually trawling through the shops to find just the right gift is an act of love in itself.
On the other hand, there is little worse than giving a present that one senses will almost immediately end in the dustbin, be passed on as a raffle prize or just stuffed at the back of a cupboard. It's not the thought of having spent hard-earned cash on something that is not appreciated, it's more the embarrassment really. It's actually just as bad for the recipient, having to feign appreciation and gratitude for that ghastly scarf great-aunt Isobel has knitted while wishing that somebody had the nous to buy that recently-published book by one's favourite author.
It's the Old Bat's birthday today. She did produce a list of sorts after a certain amount of prodding by the three children who are no longer children. Her list consisted of three things: vouchers for books, CDs or DVDs to be used at either of two named supermarkets (she doesn't git into town these days), milk chocolate, and garden vouchers. (I secretly told the kids not to give garden vouchers as we have enough plants in the garden already and these would only mean more work for me anyway.)
What did I give her? I bought the complete set of DVDs of Porridge, a comedy sitcom starring the late Ronnie Barker. I will enjoy those as well.