My roommate and I were just talking about when our various families begin preparing for Christmas, and what that means to them, and noting that both of us have grandmothers who bought our Christmas presents by our birthdays (both in early October). I mentioned that my mother's mother always wanted my Christmas list before I'd opened my birthday presents to find out what I still wanted, something I always found annoying. She eventually started shopping on her own, which is usually dangerous. My roommate agreed, and said "Grandmother should never be allowed to shop alone."
My father's mother, on the other hand, lost her shopping privileges years ago. The year I was eleven, my Christmas presents from her included two white turtlenecks - one printed with stars, the other printed with hearts. I wasn't mortified, since my parents weren't making me wear them, but I was disappointed. The next year, my parents started giving her lists of things she could buy from catalogs. She fed most of my American Girls Collection obsession for several birthdays and Christmases after that, before my parents started actually shopping for her, and in recent years wrapping for her too. There was simply no reason for her still to be shopping independently for anything. We were all happier with my parents doing the shopping. Grandmothers should indeed never be allowed to shop alone, at least not mine.
Except that my father's mother also died on Tuesday afternoon, and right now I'd give anything to get a white turtleneck with turquoise and magenta hearts for Christmas this year - if it meant she were there to watch me open it.