My children have trouble compiling their Christmas lists. Determining the proper ratio of Webkinz stuffed animals to Lego sets in any given year is a difficult task, worthy of a Fields Medal-winning mathematician. My wishes are simple, and well-served by Amazon.com: I wish for books.
To me, there is no greater value for a gift than a book, unless it's credit with a bookseller. Nothing else can be so carefully chosen to match the giftee, and nothing else can occupy so much time for little money. A movie ticket is $8 or more, and chews up two hours. A DVD usually costs more, and chews up the same amount of time. Food is eaten and forgotten, and even handmade things are a momentary delight, enjoyed and forgotten.
A book, though; a book is an investment. It's a lifetime commitment if it's a book you enjoy, or an object of good will to others if you don't. A book can make you laugh in dark times, inspire you in the face of hopelessness, or help you escape the dreariness of daily existence. A book can change your life.
Thomas Jefferson understood this: in an 1815 letter to John Adams, he wrote, "I cannot live without books."
Do you want to sharpen your intellect? Read books. Do you want to be a better writer? Read more books. Do you want to explore the heights to which humanity can soar, or the depths to which humanity can sink? Read books. Read collections of short stories, novels, how-to books, and works of theology, or literature, or fantasy. Read works by writers long dead, or a young novelist's first published work. Read books by writers from other countries and other cultures, or books translated from other languages. Read graphic novels, or instruction manuals.
A book can be read in bite-sizes, in a way that a movie cannot. You can read a chapter while waiting for an appointment, or just before bed, or before heading out to work or school. You can share book with others, or keep it to yourself.
There are books written exploring the complete range of human experiences, with more written every day. You will never read all of the books published in even a single year, just in English, but you can read a few, and you can start just after Christmas.
My family and friends don't even ask me what I want for Christmas any more. They already know to check my Amazon wishlist, well-stocked with books. You can keep everything else, just give me books.