Every time I have to go to a wedding, I complain about buying a gift off the registry. Gift registries make me really cranky. I usually enjoy buying other people gifts, but not when my choices are so limited. Part of the fun of buying someone a present is making the gift fit the relationship between giver and receiver. But when someone asks for a set of Ecru Towels, then I feel like I have to buy just that. But this destroys the whole fun of gifting, because those towels are ultimately meaningless to me and the happy couple. They're just towels. Maybe I should just go around cultivating relationships with people who find towels to be significant.

There is no possible way to register without looking like a jerk, because you are an adult who is writing a letter to Santa. Except that your letter-writing is enabled with a scanner gun that allows you to walk around the store and shoot whatever your little heart desires. Maybe it's just me, but after looking at a registry, I conclude that these people are selfish and I never really liked them anyway. Then I get mad that someone else already fulfilled their towel needs, so I guess I'll have to get them a spice rack.

I understand the practical side of registries. Because weddings are an accepted gift-exchange event, it's fair that people will want to know what to get you. Some of them are little-known relatives or long-ago friends from camp or men, and maybe they don't have a clue as to what you might want or need. My mom used to give everyone towels. I don't know if this was before registries, or if she was just unaware of them, being in possession of a general social cluelessness gene that she thoughtfully passed along to her daughter(s). But she figured that everyone needed towels, so everyone got towels. Mama picked the color, also by going with her own gut. The registry was invented to prevent newlyweds from having ten towels in ten different colors.

Of course, every time I complained about registries, a tiny, sensible part of me tried to overrule the cranky me by saying that it would be different when I got married. I would understand the vital necessity of a bridal registry. I would embrace the scanner gun.

I guess that time has come, but registries make me cranky still. Fortunately, I have a solution. I do not say that my idea will work for every betrothed couple, but it is perfect for us.

We are not registering. We do not want gifts. We don't even want money or gift cards. Keep it.

Here is why this solution works for us:
1. We're marrying late. I will be a thirty-year-old bride. I've been living on my own for nearly eight years now. I have a house, and it is full. So no, there is nothing we need. I've had a good, steady job for the duration, so anything I want badly enough, I can just go buy it for myself. If we were a young couple just starting out, I could understand needing assistance setting up shop. But that is not us. We have towels, a spice rack, a food processor, dishes, a sarcophagus. What would you even buy for a couple who already has a sarcophagus?

2. We don't particularly like new things. 95% of our household items were bought used. None of our stuff matches. Neither of these conditions were brought on by poverty, we live this way because we like it. I don't like things to match; it's boring. I don't want china, as it will never get used and just take up the space that could be given to books or antique puppets.

See? This is brilliance, my friends.

I do understand that some people will want to buy us presents. I totally relate to that. Like I said, I do actually enjoy picking out and giving a present when I'm not forced to stick to a giant scanner-generated list. We will provide alternative ways to honor us. We'll come up with a short list of charities that we like and also encourage the gifter to donate to one that he favors. We will also say that if you really want to give us an actual something, then write us a letter. Fill it with advice, memories, corny jokes, out-of-context quotes, whatever. Enclose pictures. Draw doodles. We don't care what you do, we bet it will be great and we will love it.

I fully expect about two people to write us such a letter. But how we will treasure those letters, much more so than the housewares that we would have gotten from those people otherwise, because it is such a personal token. Some people will probably still show up with white gift bags, and they will be angry at us because they had to randomly pick out a color of towel without knowing what will match our bathroom.

What do you think? Obviously, I think this is a stroke of magnificent inspiration. Josh is sold on it, too. Is there something I am missing?


MOM said...

It would be neat if friends would write down their favorite recipes for you, since you and Josh are into cooking.

Sandra said...

Yes! Recipes, too. Cut-out comic strips, collages from magazine pictures, any of it.