Girlfriends are an unbelievably hard species to buy presents for. If it's a new relationship, they're going to go for "Oh! Just get me anything!". As opposed to if it's a long term relationship, when they're instead going to state "Oh, just get me anything!". You both know, that's not how this is going to go.
Further, science tells us that if we really, really want to be happy, helping another, whether with friendship, a warm coat, a shelter, a meal, or a vaccine can provide us with the greatest surge of happiness of all. So once the Yule log has turned ash, volunteer, donate to a good cause, or go outside and spread seeds to the birds...
All this busy activity distracts us from the fact that even though Christmas is meant to be a joyful affair, it also happens to fall at a tricky time of year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). A time of darkness and decay. A time of introspection and reflection - activities that make for potentially unsettling pastimes.
Much as I relish the creativity of many of their efforts, I feel that this trend tells a worrying story both about the faltering attempts of business to redefine its place in the world and about our own need to grasp at almost anything to create meaning in our lives. In my book, we could do with rather more powerful stories at Christmas time. Any ideas?