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Opinion | Pop Culture

Holiday Generosity: Now a Click Away

Why I'm thankful for Amazon's new 'Add to Wish List' button.

I have mixed feelings about wish lists. They rob Christmas of creativity, surprise, and personal contact, but they also make shopping much, much easier. And it's nice to know that if I pay attention to the lists, gift recipients won't roll their eyes and return the gifts before the tree is by the curb.

To cut down on my family's December stress, I make my own wish list each year, feeling vaguely guilty (do I need those pearl earrings?). "Get better gifts," orders Amazon.com's wishlistmeister. I don't like his tone.

This year, though, Amazon has vastly improved its wish list, and now I can ask for anything I want from any online supplier. It doesn't even have to be a merchant: it can be a food bank, a cultural or educational organization, a humane society, a church—any organization that has a website and accepts money. All I have to do is put an "Add to Wish List" button on my Favorites or Bookmarks toolbar.

And 2009 is a good year, I think, to bypass the pearl earrings and go straight for the better gifts: gifts that will help people whose income went down more than ours did, or who lost their jobs or their homes, or who have unmanageable medical expenses, or who aren't sure they will be able to afford Christmas dinner. According to a November 27 Associated Press story,

food banks across the country report about a 30 percent increase in demand on average, but some have seen as much as a 150 percent jump in demand from 2008 through the middle of this year …. The U.S. ...
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