I was raised in a 'no list' household. This was primarily because we were extremely poor and we never knew how much 'Santa' could afford to spend on us.
Seriously, to stop us asking/mentioning expensive gifts, my mom told us that Santa sent her a bill after Christmas and she had to pay him for our gifts - and, kids, Santa isn't cheap because he has to support all those Elves and they're unionized.
So, I learned to really pay attention to people, their likes, their interests and what they mention 'in passing'. I file it away for gift giving reference. I also got VERY good at dropping the occasional hint around the holidays so that people wouldn't be completely in the dark about what to get me.
As a result I was very uncomfortable when I married in the hubs family - they're a list family. I was 26 years old, married and my mother-in-law was asking me for a list. EEK! I was horribly embarrassed, had no idea what to put on there - what if I offended her by asking for things that were too cheap or too expensive. UGH! Too much stress for me.