Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Christmas wish list wish list

I'm very uncomfortable with online (or other) wish lists for presents. Whenever I see a Christmas wish list, a baby shower registry, or a wedding list it makes me uncomfortable. The reason is that wish lists take all the pleasure out of choosing and buying a gift for a loved one and turn it into a financial transaction devoid of almost any loving meaning.

What I'd like to see is a new type of wish list. A general wish list that expresses things that would please me while allowing people the space to choose personal gifts. For example, my wish list might contain:
1. A lightweight camera tripod. Something I can easily carry about, but that puts the camera about a metre off the ground. Should have a pan and tilt head.

2. Poetry. I like Sir John Betjeman, e e cummings, Oscar Wilde and many of the war poets. Make me discover something new.

3. A book about ancient history. I don't know enough about the Greek civilization.

4. A cover for my iPhone. It's a 4S. Find something that doesn't spoil the phone's lines but will protect it from being shoved in my pocket.

5. Waterproof cycling clothes. Something I can wear over existing clothing. Perhaps waterproof or resistant shoes.
Compare that to a similar list that contained specific items from specific shops. With my general list a loved one can see things I might like and do their own search and discovery taking into account what they know about me. Or they can read the list and by inspired to buy something else.

The gifts I best remember are ones that people surprised me with because of the thought that had gone into them. A new wallet that was carefully chosen and replaced one that I loved (because it had been stolen and returned) but that had reached the end of its days. A tea set from my parents that closely matched the sort of style I would have bought. Those presents express affection through thoughtfulness. The best presents come from observing a loved one and seeing the things that they don't know that they want, or that they wouldn't ask for. My wish list helps that process along.

Imagine how different it would have been if I had chosen my own presents and presented a wish list.

With a specific list it becomes an exercise in "which of these can I afford?" rather than "what would please this person and make them happy?". By restricting the freedom to choose to a specific list of items, the loved one's ability to express love or thoughtfulness is severely restricted. It's only slightly better than sending money to choose from a wish list.

So, who's going to fulfil my final Christmas wish?
6. An online wish list service that's built around general descriptions of items (perhaps with examples from online shopping sites) with all the usual features for marking items bought etc.

3 comments:

Yuriy S said...

Sounds like a damn good idea. I wish I had the time to code something like this.

sail121j said...

This series (although a bit old) is still the reference history books for interested readers.
Vol. II is the one that should interest you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Civilization

sail121j said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Civilization
Volume II is the one you might be interested in. The whole series is the definitive set for history buffs..