I am nearly impossible to buy holiday presents for. Mea Culpa.

 When I was younger I was always able to make a list of things that I'd like to get as holiday presents. while this sounds selfish the making of lists is a family tradition on my wife's side. they like the idea that they'll be getting something the recipient really wants. And in turn something they really want. And her family has always been frugal; no gift on the list has ever come close to costing $50. They don't buy gifts for everyone in the extended family circle. They put all the names in a random generator and pair up a gift giver with a recipient. Your task, where the family is concerned, is to give the one gift or a carefully curated collection of small gifts to the one person that was chosen for you. When this system was "installed" they also decided that it would be a time saver for the giver and a huge relief for the gift recipient if everyone made lists of things they might like to get. 

As commerce and tech intermingled it became commonplace for each person to include a few links to various things they'd be happy to get which makes it even easier on the gift giver. 

this all sounds very transactional but since the giver never gifts to his own gift giver it eliminates the usual quid pro quo of gift-giving. My wife's family is also very kind and well adjusted and with them it really is the "thought" much more so than the actual value of the gift that matters most. I didn't believe this was possible for the first twenty years of marriage since my own family was hell bent on always keeping track....

In our own nuclear families we still give and get gifts from/for each other but we have adopted list-making to ease the almost mandatory stress of the season. It's hard enough scheduling busy work days without having to intuit and track down the "perfect gift." 

I came up short this year. I just couldn't think of anything I wanted. Since we stopped paying for the big items that people in their 30s, 40s and 50s have to pay for (college, mortgages, elder care, etc.) I've had free rein to buy whatever I want. This creates a burden for B & B since they haven't a clue for what to get dear old dad. They know better than to buy camera gear because: A. It's expensive. B. My tastes change too often. and C. If I really wanted a particular camera/lens/flash/bag etc. I've probably already impulsively run out and bought it. Pretty much in the moment I decided I wanted it.

Most of the books I like to read (almost always novels. don't trust anyone who doesn't enjoy fiction....)  come from the local library. It's fair. We support them with our tax dollars. So books are off the table as gifts. We are largely tech neutral so there are few, if any, gadgets I need or want. 

But I realize that my impulsive and spontaneous embrace of photo gear creates a hardship for my loving family in that it removes a big potential source of gifts. 

We all agree that among a close knit family gift cards are tacky. They are too easy and too impersonal. Lately we've fallen back on the path of least resistance which is to choose charities that we know the target of our giving is aligned with and sending money. 

I kid around and suggest to B & B that they just grab the latest camera to come into the studio, wrap it up and put it under the tree. But not too far in advance of the actual holiday....if it's that new I want to be able to play with it beforehand. 

Mr. B (aka: the kid)  works hard to find stuff. Sometimes it's a pricy bottle of wine I would never splurge on. Other times it's a piece of art he knows I'll like. Ms. B has largely given up and focuses on the donation route. Or the shared entertainment category (concert tickets?).  But lately we've downsized our spend to things like gardening tools for her and chlorine neutralizing, post swim body wash for me. We're remarkably easy to please...

I confess to be mystified by my friends who "over-achieve" in the giving of gifts to close family. things like cars for the adult kids or lavish fashion gifts for husbands and wives. Splashing out for Rolex watches or flashy jewelry. But I guess it's a case of to each their own. 

Every year I notice photo-oriented blogs and websites making giant holiday gift lists aimed at their readers. The links connect back to a legion of affiliated merchants who are set to have a nice fourth quarter administering to people who delayed personal gratification, waiting for the holidays to provide the yearly excuse to be lavish and toss budgets to the wind. I guess this point of view comes from owning a business and seeing cameras, et al, as being depreciable or deductible expenses instead of drags on the family budget. 

But I really wonder if the blogger or  the photo website is the best source of photographic gift recommendations to an audience that spends an inordinate amount to time doing their own research about cool gear....

It's almost sinister to watch the buying pumps being primed by the very people one comes to for balanced information all year long. But perhaps the affiliate cash is earned over the course of the year by providing ready access to free content. 

Is it true then that there is no such thing as a free lunch? Or a free post or review?

It's feels almost obligatory to ask at this point, as a blogger --- but what is it that you really, really want for whichever holiday it is you celebrate with your family? And really, it doesn't have to be photographic.

My biggest "ask" this year is for a perfect pecan pie. I think it's do-able and I'll certainly share. 

How are the holidays treating you? 

It's a tough time of the year for some people. I try my best to be a bit nicer and more patient with people. It seems like a good idea.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go wrap some potting soil in a nice box with a bow.