I'm something of a gift person. If someone happens to present some token of affection that is just exactly right, they have scored a winning hit. It's not the cost or size of the gift, but the personal nature of such things.
For example, someone gave me a pair of skillets this year. The very skillets I have carried around stores only to put them back. Once, I actually bought the things, but then decided to return them. Imagine the surprise of finding them tucked into a gift basket with my least favorite holiday treat (It won't make me fat if I won't eat it. The family loves the stuff, and it was intended for them as well as my skinny jeans.) and two (published!) books by an author who was once only available in amateur online circles. This is not a gift basket to appeal to the masses. (Harry & David were probably cringing somewhere.) It was, quite simply, lovely. A basket of treats that say, "I get you." Outta the park, people.
That's not to say that I am good at giving gifts. Nope. My mother-in-law who genuinely dislikes cooking and only does it out of necessity and duty? We gave her kitchen related gifts for years. Having discovered only last year the inappropriateness of our past attempts, the girls and I cruised the petites sections of several retailers this year to pick out clothing that would both suit the MIL's frame, and that looked like her taste. Imagine the shock when she opened her gifts this year to discover an outfit she clearly loved instead of the usual assortment of cutesy potholders, fancy trivets, Christmas china, and kitchen tools.
It's not that there is a lack of desire to choose appropriate gifts. Or that I do not listen throughout the year for small hints as to what might tickle others' fancies. It's the pressure of gift-giving at Christmas. The compulsion to have a little something for everyone means there is not necessarrily something personally suited to each one on Santa Mama's list.
That delight found in a thoughtful gift received? It's a thousandfold when one is the giver of such a gift. That is the source of much holiday stress around here. It's the simple hope of giving good gifts--- fallen prey to indecisiveness, a pocketbook with reasonable limitations, recognition of some individuals' feelings of the need for reciprocation, and the lack of time to thoughtfully choose something for each individual.