Aren't Christmas lists just the most frustrating things ever? Sometimes it is nice to be able to have a clue or two as to what someone wants as resources are limited...but other times, it is difficult to find the specific items. Very difficult. Try impossible.
My daughter - who is THE easiest person on my list - provided me with her Christmas list in October. This is both a positive and a negative development. It is positive in that I have a very clear picture of what she wants. It is negative in that this means I will look for every item on that list AND will stumble on a ton of other things that I want to give her. I will then spend the first two weeks of December trying desperately to get my son to give me just a couple of clues. The package total will be totally uneven if I am not extremely careful.
That is one thing that my mother insisted upon. What we received may not have cost the same (although I am convinced that it was close)...but there would be the same number of packages under the tree. I try to do that as well...but have found that this does not always occur. I then pull a few of her gifts and save them for her birthday in January. Cheating? Well, yeah. But it might possibly keep Brian off of Dr. Phil or Oprah bemoaning the fact that his mother wasn't "fair."
Drawing names takes some of the drama out of Christmas morning...but only if there is excellent communication. Purchasing the wrong size or something from a local store (that is more difficult to exchange without inquiring for the receipt) can make it a little hard to take if your primary gift is not something you can use.
Leaving people to their own devices can be extremely risky...especially if someone in the family is a big fan of buying Christmas in July. Receiving pool toys and beach towels probably aren't as appreciated in the dead of winter. Unless, of course, the family is headed for the Bahamas or something for a Christmas holiday.
Then there's the whole gift card/money/check debate...which basically means that you clear money back and forth to each other under the guise of gift purchasing. Teenagers love this, actually, because they'd rather buy whatever is new and cool on iTunes rather than limit themselves to one CD of your choice.
But the truth is...it all eventually works out. Someone will be amazed at the attention you paid to them...someone will be surprised...someone will be relieved that they finally received a long desired item. We may not have this experience every year on one side or the other...but it is fun to think that we might.
Figuring it all out is just part of what makes the holidays stressful...but also a whole lot of fun. You never know...it just might all end up better than you expect. Here's hoping!
Merry Christmas! Hope that all of your wishes for the season came true!