And when my son recently expressed curiousity about how the different variety of cheeses come about, and I found a cheese-making kit soon after that, it occured to me to save it for Christmas. But again, this was something I wanted to give him, not simply to meet a "need" for a thing to unwrap under a tree.
A gift given for no reason seems to me far more significant than one that must be given to fulfil an imposed expectation. When my friend gave me a lovely glass recently, it was because she'd noticed I could use one, not because of any sense of obligation to do with the date.
Don't we tell our children not to follow the crowd, to think for themselves, not to do things merely because "everybody else" is? Surely a gift chosen for the joy of giving, without time pressure, without a feeling of duty, is almost by definition going to be better than one bought to beat a deadline.
I'm not even talking here about the waste, the pointless plastic landfill fodder, the environmental damage in production and tranport and disposal of the sort of novelty items seen everywhere that serve no function but to be given away (before being thrown away).
This year, for the first time, we have agreed a no-present pact in our family. We all like giving, and we will continue to do so, as and when it's the right thing.