Is a Christmas Registry a bad idea?
December 12, 2002 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Is a Christmas gift registry a bad idea? WalMart doesn't think so? However, a manner expert warns that it is "very, very tacky."
posted by jacknose (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

gimme! gimme! gimme! Mine! Mine! Mine!
posted by archimago at 12:30 PM on December 12, 2002

My gut says that it's inappropriate, self-centered, and greedy. But I have to admit that I also ask for gift certificates as Christmast presents. Is it the same thing?
posted by jacknose at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2002

> "Asking a parent or child what they want is one thing, but to
> say, 'I'm registered at Macy's.' Doesn't that sound awful?"

I'd be sorely tempted. "You say you're registered at Macy's? Well, I'm shopping at the Salvation Army."
posted by jfuller at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2002

"as Christmast" -- Um, I meant to do that.
posted by jacknose at 12:37 PM on December 12, 2002

It beats getting stuff you don't want and having to return it. Just because you love someone very much doesn't mean you know what to give them for a gift. Granted, registering at some place super expensive is super tacky. I like the Amazon wish list approach because you can choose from such a huge variety of items - and then go to real stores and get 'em or order them online if they're cheaper.
posted by ao4047 at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2002

"very, very tacky."


I'd rather just not get anything at all if someone who WANTS to get me something, can't think of something on their own.

I think gift certificates are fine... and asking for them (if someone asks you) isn't tacky at all. A gift certificate to Borders makes sense to me... after all, there's 10s of thousands of book to choose from. The chances of picking "the right" one is pretty tough.
posted by Witty at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2002

It depends. I don't think it's a bad idea to have one. I have a wishlist, which is similar and I know my several members of my family really appreciated having that this year. Of course, the rule I had was I didn't send it out to anyone unless they had no clue what to get me at all. Then I'd mention, "Well, I do have this wishlist..." and instantly they'd be "Send it! Now! Please..."

So I guess I think it wouldn't be bad to have one for those people who prefer to use them, but I wouldn't widely advertise it.
posted by aclevername at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2002

Seems no tackier than the "Christmas lists" many families use. With places like Home Depot adding wedding registries, practicality seems to be in vogue, and in some cases they've been expanded to anniversaries, engagements, and baby showers (and naturally, it's a marketing opportunity for the retailer in any case). I think the notion of a friend shopping for hours and finding the "perfect gift" is nonsense -- in my small group of friends, none of us is very successful at giving OR getting what is wanted. Maintaining the fiction that a person merely came up with the generosity out of spontaneous excitement over the holiday and this was accompanied by empathetic insight seems more a social convention than anything -- and given the prevalence of post-holiday returns, a dumb convention. In the end, younger people with active Amazon wishlists and the like are probably much more accepting of this.

For my part, I have a list of over 200 books, and I certainly don't think the onus is on any of my family or friends to get me the whole thing. It's just a bunch of items I'd probably buy myself if I had the time (or money). Why not please myself and my friends by getting a gift which will be appreciated? This seems sensible, rather than tacky.
posted by dhartung at 12:42 PM on December 12, 2002

The idea that your family members and friends should get you anything for christmas is selfish on its own. To add to that "trying to avoid the hassle of returning unwanted items," makes the whole situation, selfish, and childish, and rude. Then making a list so people will know what to get you so you will get what you want since they HAVE to get you things anyway, is bordering on being human trash.

My suggestion. Don't ask for anything, accept anything graciously. And keep everything you get after thanking the giver. So the sweater isn't your color, screw you, it is a gift.
posted by Mushkelley at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2002

So a manners expert called it tacky despite its WalMart Endorsement?

But anyway, how would you rank it compared to, say, requests for cash only?
posted by BigPicnic at 12:49 PM on December 12, 2002

a request for cash only should be grounds for the cancellation of an event, wedding shower, baby shower, or christmas.
posted by Mushkelley at 12:50 PM on December 12, 2002

Last comment, lest I become Miguelesque. Does the very idea of "gift" become cheapened by the whole giving-me-something-I-don't-want attitude. What is a gift? Is it a shopping obligation? Is it fulfilling a wish list? Or is it an expression of something else? I don't put the blame solely on the receiver of a gift; I think we often buy purely out of cultural obligation and, thus, buy unnecessary and unthoughtful items. A true gift is probably more spontaneous, spurred by an item that reminds the giver of the receiver or by some impulse to give to someone in need or someone you appreciate.

On preview, think of my comment piggy-backing on Mushkelley's comment.
posted by jacknose at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2002

So the sweater isn't your color, screw you, it is a gift

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather give someone something that they'll actually enjoy having, rather than knowing that it'll sit in a drawer for all eternity (why give it at all, in that case?), and if that means asking them what they'd like, so be it . I figure, if you're going to give gifts (which should be a choice, not a requirement), then it's better to give things people will actually like, some people are good at figuring that out, others need help. But playing the nicey-nice "oh, I love this purple and orange and lime green pom-pom covered sweater" game just seems dumb (and dishonest). I like registries, it gives people a selection to choose from, knowing that whatever they choose will be enjoyed. Just don't push it on people, wait to be asked. And I don't have a problem with cash as a gift, either, as long as it's handled politely (money is the Universal Gift Certificate). And what jacknose said, I'd much rather someone give me a gift because they saw it and thought of me, regardless of the time of year, than someone give me a gift because they were obliged to.
posted by biscotti at 12:55 PM on December 12, 2002

I wish my family had wish lists. That way I could have taken care of all my shopping in like 2 minutes instead of the 30-120 minutes I actually spent doing it.

I have an amazon wish list which is not so much a buy me this list as it is an I'm eventually going to get this but I'm not ready to buy it for myself list. I've let family know that it's there since they asked what I wanted. Problem is that none of them are comfortable with shopping via the internet yet (ever?).
posted by willnot at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2002

Anything is fair game to GIVE, cash, gift certificates, ill conceived sweaters. I have no problem with someone giving cash to all their loved ones because they can't think of anything else, or they don't want to give anything else. What is horrible, is for a person to receive a gift and be "put out" by it. Or to request that everyone give them cash. The whole point of christmas is to give nice things to people whom you want to get nice things from you. If you find yourself stuck for ideas for someone you want to get something from you that they will like, then ask, or give cash, or a gift certificate. There should be no place for preemptive strikes at christmas to get exactly what one wants. It is tacky to think you deserve anything at all. To sum up, Christmas is a time of giving, not a time of receiving. At least if you want to be a tasteful human.

If you are having a wedding, and you don't want your guests to give you presents, instead, you just want them to give you cash, cancel your wedding and consider the savings as your cash gift.
posted by Mushkelley at 1:03 PM on December 12, 2002

If someone asks, I'll point them to my wish list. As a gift giver I'm really glad most of my family has Amazon wish lists.

I used to think gift certificates said "I'd give you cash, but I thought you would spend it on drugs" but in the past few years I've wound up giving (and happily receiving) a few.

Of course, if any MeFites want to send me well concealed cash or traveller's checks (no personal checks please) just send them to...
posted by JoanArkham at 1:32 PM on December 12, 2002

Wouldn't Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart be considered "very, very tacky" by most shopping gurus anyways?

And yes, the whole "here's where I'm registered, now go buy me stuff" is quite gross. And it takes all of the personality out of a gift for a person. Myself? I frequent antique malls and stuff to find cool, unique presents for my friends. Or concert tickets. Can't go wrong there.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:45 PM on December 12, 2002

If gift giving were perfect then we'd miss out on great post-holiday traditions like re-gifting and the "worst gift exchange parties" (one of my personal favorites).
posted by Dick Paris at 1:53 PM on December 12, 2002

I may be a sap, but I like Rebecca's wishlist. If the only reason you give someone a gift is to tell them "I'm thinking about you, and I like you" then any little token of affection will do, generally. It seems that the whole xmas registry is basically like saying "I want it to be a suprise, but not too much ofa suprise..." Screw it, everyone gets books from me, same as last year.
posted by jessamyn at 1:58 PM on December 12, 2002

This is Christmas time, you must stop thinking about your small world! Do you know that Christmas presents represent a loss [sorry, restricted link] for the society as a whole? At least this what Professor Joel Waldfogel concluded after interviewing his students in 1993: "though Christmas generates a $50 billion gift-giving industry, a tenth to a third of that is sheer loss. Why? Because the recipient doesn't always get what he wants. Given the chance, the recipient would have purchased something else." Of course, people got upset and came up with a new study [sorry, again restricted link] to show the opposite: a 214% welfare gain! It seems that pooling methods were somehow different [PDF file]. Waldfogel said: look guys, I’ve done some more research [PDF file] and I still find a loss for the society.

So, you want to help the society? Then give cash not gifts! But then, "it would be far better if everyone just clung to his own bank account and spent his own money as he saw fit. Indeed, we'd all be better off economically if Christmas were merely abolished--heck, maybe the Congress should do it--until such time as we all have perfect knowledge of each other's preferences and are willing to act on them." [interesting read here]. Meanwhile, in Austria, Santa is no longer welcomed!
posted by MzB at 2:02 PM on December 12, 2002

out of curiosity, does anyone have any nice and esoteric shopping sites to share? I bought a few t-shirts at j-list, and maybe a will pick up a few gadgets at thinkgeek, but besides that I'm quite flummoxed.
posted by condour75 at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2002

Mushkelley, among others, has some good insights.

We have a "Secret Santa" gift exchange among the 10 or so 30-somethings in our family. You spend $100 on the person whose name you drew out of a hat, and are encouraged to consult the list he/she drew up. This cuts down on the combinatorial explosion of gift lists we'd have otherwise.

In the past few years, we've put these lists on the web, and kept an archive. It's interesting to see what people were asking for two or three years ago.

Still, the shopping part of Christmas, which at times overwhelms everything else, is to me an unwelcome, boorish guest, who I cannot kick out because others enjoy its company.

Shopping for adults is a chore, because often what they really want -- and you both can afford -- they already have. And figuring out what we adults would want to receive -- something useful or fun that doesn't become more clutter to manage -- is no easier. For the child who doesn't have everything, finding the right gift is more straightforward.

I wouldn't mind seeing gift-giving scaled back to the following recipients: children, one's spouse, and one's parents.
posted by kurumi at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2002

I'm torn on this one.

I honestly don't see a difference between a wedding registry, a wishlist, and Christmas list... they're all lists of things people want.

When I see someone has a registry (or whatever), I enjoy looking them over and seeing if there's anything on them that would be a good gift from _me_. If there isn't, then I move on.

I guess the only thing that could go wrong with such a list would be if the recipient, as mushkelley put is, was "put out". It's a wishlist for crying out loud, not an entitlement program!

The kicker, though, is that for me gift giving is all about the time spent doing it... the thinking about the recipient, their tastes and their habits, their quirkiness, their style (or lack thereof)... doing all of that, then coming up with something that is a token of that process.

Perhaps the only thing I ever remember a relative saying to or about me—ever—was at a family Christmas party when my aunt turned to my mother and said "I just don't know what to get Silus, he's not like my Jason". The comparison to her minor deity of a son wasn't the issue, the pain there was that she didn't know enough about me (or care to find out) to think of something I'd like.

Funny thing is, a gift certificate to some bookstore would have just made my day: "Wow!" I'd think, "She knows how much I love reading... and she's okay with that..."

Anyway, bitter reverie aside, as long as the wishlist is a tool for exploring the recipient, and not just some easy way to knock a gift off your list, I've got no qualms.

kurumi: a suggestion, if I may be so bold... I have a couple of folks in my circle of friends who don't need anything, and really don't want anything that they don't already have. These folks get a special kind of gift, which is easier to describe as an anecdote than otherwise.

I recently gave a friend of mine—who's a loving husband but who doesn't get to spend much time with his wife—a gift certificate to a local shop—one neither of them knew about—that had some nice dresses and some other quality goods aimed at women... and a gift certificate for a bistro in the neighborhood. I told him that it was a free date on me: take his wife shopping for a new dress, and treat her to dinner. So he got time with his wife, she got a new dress, and I got to hear the story.

Just a thought.
posted by silusGROK at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2002

I have a wishlist for my parents and sister, and no one else knows it exists, nor will they. Mom asks for lists every year and most years I fight it, but she really likes them. I send gift certificates to close friends and family who live far away as to pay the shipping generally doubles the cost of the gift, and I usually write a message in the card to let them know I was thinking of them.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:14 PM on December 12, 2002

I think the only thing tacky about this is that it's from Walmart.

I was struggling with that big online megastore's wishlist function. I was trying to send something not on someone's wishlist, but through their wishlist (since I didn't know their address). It's impossible. I could have sent them two items -- one item that was on their list, and the one item I wanted to send, but not the one item by itself. I wrote the service department to complain, and they said that due to privacy concerns, they could not give out addresses. I said I didn't want the address, I just wanted the ability to send them something not on their wishlist. They responded by sending me the same boilerplate again.

As it ended up, I looked up her domains with WHOIS and sent it to the address listed on the newest domain. For all I know, it's an empty parking lot.
posted by crunchland at 2:16 PM on December 12, 2002

the pain there was that she didn't know enough about me (or care to find out) to think of something I'd like.

Bingo! I remember crying over an exceptionally poor present I received when I was a kid, and it wasn't because I didn't get something I wanted, it was because I was really hurt that a relative of mine could know so little about me that she'd have even remotely considered it a good gift for me. I think that most of the time when recipients are "put out" is related to this, and not to anything greed-related.
posted by biscotti at 2:52 PM on December 12, 2002

What about a registry for various non profit organizations, where donations can be given, in a persons name.
posted by Beholder at 3:02 PM on December 12, 2002

Kids are excused from being polite members of society, that is why they are not just called people, but in fact are specifically designated into groups such as "babies", "Toddlers", "Pre-adolescents" and "Adolescents". By the time you become an "adult" you should have learned that you don't always get what you want, and that when people give you gifts, it is important to be thankful that they though of you at all, not that the thought of you an got you exactly what your selfish little heart wanted. If you are pitching fits over christmas gifts, or you are piling up the "miss-gives" for post christmas returns, then you are missing the point and I feel bad for you because Christmas (and birthdays too) are much nicer when you can be appreciative. If you find yourself opening a gift this year from someone not in the room and exclaiming aloud "What were they thinking?" or something like that, try to remember that they were probably thinking "Merry Christmas."
posted by Mushkelley at 3:14 PM on December 12, 2002

> Wouldn't Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart be considered
> "very, very tacky" by most shopping gurus anyways?

Especially when I said "sex only."
posted by jfuller at 3:28 PM on December 12, 2002

out of curiosity, does anyone have any nice and esoteric shopping sites to share? I bought a few t-shirts at j-list, and maybe a will pick up a few gadgets at thinkgeek, but besides that I'm quite flummoxed.

this is offtopic, so i'll keep it small.

buy olympia
readymade: i think a subscription to this mag would make a decent gift. i really like it, personally, and i'm not really even the crafty type (it doesn't hurt that it's local to me). also: you writerly type crafty people, they're accepting submissions through their website.

design object

i also have bought some nice vintage toy stuff from (which otherwise is just a bunch of accoutrements junk. )

additionally, i picked up a calendar from balloonhat which was linked previously on mefi.

speaking of mefi -- a donation to mefi might make a nice christmas present, eh?

i'm planning on doing more shopping on the internet this year (if not all of it) as local shops seem to have less and less boutique items -- or all the same. i can't count how many "hip" type stores i've ran across that carry the *SAME* accoutrements stuff.

there's a bunch more i've ran across. i assume there'll be a better place to post them eventually then mucking up this thread excessively.

posted by fishfucker at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2002

she didn't know enough about me (or care to find out) to think of something I'd like.

It's really a debate though, Mushkelly, is it kind or unkind to tell someone that they got you something you didn't want? That's sort of the crux of the issue driving this registry idea anyhow, isn't it?

I have had a longstanding polite request to my family to not get me anything. I don't need anything and extra stuff is really pretty much in the way. I'm even fullup on stuff like soap which is usually the perfect consumable gift [though with some unpleasant connotations perhaps] but my Mom and I get into it on my birthday every year because she just can't not get me anything. Plus, her judgement is bad, or upsetting as biscotti mentioned above. I've been torn between 1) asking for something I don't need or want in order to end run the inevitable bad gift 2) accepting that it's more important to her to get me something than for me to enjoy my gift and suck it up and give the gift to someone else 3) go through the same song and dance every year where I return the gift [which my Mom is always gracious about "I want you to have something that you like..." she claims] and spend the resultant money on books, or food which seems to feel "aren't presents".

The hard part is, she wants to get me something I like and surprise me, which is a near impossible combination with my anti-consumer bent and lack of need for stuff. It's tough when people get frustrated with you because they can't buy you stuff, I don't really know how to handle that.

I haven't hit upon a good solution yet. Christmas time is often awkward because while I'm into the goodwill-towards-men stuff, the whole gift thing is mysterious and strange to me. I usually make postcards for people and tell them I'm happy they're my friends, I'm amazed at how well that goes over.
posted by jessamyn at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2002

My wife has a slightly different problem. Every year she discreetly makes a few suggestions to her mother for what she might want for her birthday or christmas. And every year her mother nods her head and says ok. Then, come gift time, all the gifts she gives are things that weren't suggested (or appreciated in most cases). Her mother insists on giving gifts that my wife has not suggested or wants. When we got married, she was the only person to give a gift that was not on our wedding registry (and again, something that we really didn't want). There is no animosity involved, just the fact that her mother absolutely insists on ignoring all gift suggestions and instead picks out gifts that SHE would like to have. On more than one occasion my wife has ended up giving one of the gifts to her mother because she will never use it. I've come to the conclusion that her mother is either the most ignorant, hurtful person I've ever met, or totally, utterly clueless and selfish.
posted by rrtek at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2002

try to remember that they were probably thinking "Merry Christmas.

Okay, just you try spending Christmas with some of my relatives and see how long you manage to hold onto this charmingly naive and idealistic view you have. I'm only mostly kidding. There are plenty of people who use the attitude you espouse ("be grateful they were thinking of you and shut up if you don't like it") for all kinds of nefarious purposes. One of my relatives is well-known for using gifts as messages, and not "happy cheery I love you" messages either, but blatantly insulting, interfering, downright nasty messages, and because they're gifts, you're not supposed to take offense. I'm not saying you're right or wrong, because I firmly believe that there's room in the world for opinions on both ends of the spectrum, but perhaps you could leave some room in your worldview for people who don't feel the way you do about things. I would rather get a card, or a truly warm word, than most gifts anyday (please note that this doesn't apply to the Aston Martin DB7, Santa), but please recognise that not all gifts are the shining beacons of love from the heart you imply they are.
posted by biscotti at 4:55 PM on December 12, 2002

Tires. Give me tires.
posted by shepd at 5:34 PM on December 12, 2002

jessamyn-Have you ever tried convincing people to give you books, or a gift certificate? I sent my parents a list of books as early as July this year, which was when I discovered Eric Flint. I should be getting pretty much only books this year. I'm looking forward to it.
posted by stoneegg21 at 7:22 PM on December 12, 2002

Everybody on both sides of my family ASKS for a wishlist and has for many years. They don't really seem compelled to use it, though; it's just guidance. ("Oh, she asked for a bunch of books on x; here's a video tape about x, so I'll get that.") I'm aware that traditional etiquette doesn't approve, but if the list isn't pushed on people but is given out to people who ask, I don't see any harm in it. And it does help because even if you know someone's interests relatively well, you may not know what he or she already owns.

I admit being vaguely annoyed last year when someone specifically asked for the list, I gave a list of books, and then on Christmas the person said "Oh, I looked at your list, but it was all books! (look of puzzlement) So I got you this instead." Um... I wanted the books! I love books! Really, it's ok to get me books! I won't mind! :)

Well, it was a fine gift anyhow; I just thought it was odd, this opinion that books aren't real gifts or something. So this year I put some things that aren't books on the list too, knowing that this person would probably buy them.

stoneegg21: As you see here, convincing people who aren't readers to give books seems to be difficult.
posted by litlnemo at 7:35 PM on December 12, 2002

Kids are excused from being polite members of society

What an appalling notion (one which explains a lot about current society, however).

As you see here, convincing people who aren't readers to give books seems to be difficult.

Baffling, isn't it? Books > diamonds.
posted by rushmc at 7:56 PM on December 12, 2002

litlnemo, I'm with you. I often ask for a list from people -- not to see what to buy, but to figure out what they're most interested in at the moment. I try to be somewhat original, which is more fun than "Give me x." "All right, here's x." "Thank you." It's fun to suprise someone with something that they didn't ask for yet genuinely like. And the wish list just helps to point you in the right direction. (My mother actually makes it a point of pride that she rarely gets me anything on my Xmas list.)
posted by Vidiot at 11:07 PM on December 12, 2002

The main problem is that gift-giving has become an expectation, rather than an option. I'm all for giving presents to kids on their birthday and Christmas, but why should adults be expected to buy presents for other adults? What can anybody possibly buy me that I couldn't go out and buy myself? In the same way, what present could I possibly find my relatives that they couldn't buy themselves? This makes present-buying a stressful and time-consuming business, and one that I would rather do without. Worse, this annoyance is far from cancelled out from the receiving of presents, since if I really wanted it, I'd have already bought it.

I would like to seriously scale down my gift buying and receiving, but this year my wife went hopelessly over the top in buying presents for me, and that pretty much forced me to reciprocate. I've already told her in advance that next year I am spending a maximum of £30 on her present. She's welcome to spend as much (or little) as she likes on me, but I'm not going to deviate from my plan. I think she still thinks I'm not serious.
posted by salmacis at 5:52 AM on December 13, 2002

It's christmas. I just want phat lewt.

If someone gets something for me that I don't need, want or can't use, it ends up being returned, regifted, or trashed. Would the gift-giver want me never to use their gift? It seems a little selfish of the gifter to say "Here's something you don't want and won't use, but you must keep it because otherwise you're trash for not appreciating that I thought of you." It's selfish to expect that of someone.

Feh. If it's the thought that counts, why so much emphasis on keeping what they got you? I can still appreciate that the person thought enough of me to buy a gift for me while I'm standing in the Returns/Exchanges line. I want the people that I gift to get something they want, not something I want them to have.
posted by tolkhan at 8:21 AM on December 13, 2002

My family begs me for a wish list. As far as my mother is concerned, the Amazon wish list is the best thing invented since sliced bread, and to be honest, I wish each family member for whom I'm expected to get a gift would make one, too.

Yes, it would be wonderful to rid ourselves of the whole gift giving thing altogether, but I'll tell you, hilarity would ensue on Christmas morning when everyone opened their gifts only to find I had made donations to charities their names. And not good Caddy Shack style hilarity, but the bloodshed and mayhem kind of hilarity.

Or even worse! I would make donations or give them post cards on which I wrote a few short verses about how important they are to me and in return I would be showered with costly, material items, thus giving me the gift that keeps on giving, the true meaning of Christmas, guilt.

I know this makes us terrible, terrible people, but until I am the elder family member and can shift the Christmas paradigm to one of my own devising (I like the charitable contribution idea very much) I have to do what makes my family happy, and that is buying them the specific gifts that they requested from major retailers.
posted by jennyb at 9:24 AM on December 13, 2002

Just do what I do and buy everyone you know exactly one packet of quigit shims.

Each year, I seem to spend less money on gifts compared to the year before. I'm mystified.
posted by lucien at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2002

I hate shopping for gifts. I'm awful at it. I never know what to get anyone, whether they're close relatives or dear friends or people I'm in love with -- nine times out of ten, my attempts at getting them something they'd be interested in either result in something they already have or something too obvious and pedestrian for their tastes.

I am also notoriously difficult to shop for, having hobbies common to so few of my friends. In high school I don't think I got a single gift from my parents that I was interested in -- my favorite was the book of passes to an art movie house that shows about half a dozen movies I want to see a year.

I've got no problem with wishlists. No one has to say a word, everybody gets the right presents, and the financial rewards go to the people who make the things people want. This is the way it should be.
posted by Epenthesis at 11:23 AM on December 13, 2002

I don't see much of a problem with wishlists... especially when you're on a tight budget and you want to get something that is affordable that the person will actually use.
posted by freethinker1 at 3:59 PM on December 13, 2002

salmacis, many people want things they can't afford to buy for themselves, or would feel guilty buying for themselves. Giving those people one of those things as a gift is a kindness. There are plenty of reasons why people just don't go out and buy everything they want.

I want everything on my Amazon wish list, but if I bought all of those things for myself I would have no money to pay for living expenses. If someone buys me one of those items for Christmas, I will be grateful and happy. If no one does, I will buy some of the things for myself over time, but not all of them since I can't afford it.

I have heard your point of view from others recently ("if I wanted something I would have bought it for myself") and I must admit, it mystifies me. Either such people want very little or they have much more money available to spend than I do.
posted by litlnemo at 7:20 PM on December 13, 2002

Either such people want very little or they have much more money available to spend than I do.

It also presumes omniscience. I'll use books as an example, since we've been talking about them. I may know a book that I think my friend will absolutely love based upon my knowledge of them, their personality, and their reading habits, but he or she has never heard of it. It would be impossible for them to "buy it themselves," unless I told them about it or, in time, they happened to stumble across it. Obviously, this reasoning applies to more than just books.
posted by rushmc at 8:09 PM on December 13, 2002

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