The idea of registering is odd, but before I get into all that, I will say this: I do have a certain fondness towards the tradition. What with all the counter-traditional wedding stuff out there, much of which I ascribe to, from time to time I run across an old wedding standby that I actually like. Registering – or at least the general themes involved – is one of those.
The typical path towards registries, which of course is not followed by everyone, is essentially the one Jessica and I traveled. We lived our separate lives, became adults independently, lived in many places with many different people, both had brief careers as Vegas belly dancers, and each accumulated a random assortment of stuff before we met and merged our two lives together. Pots, pans, plates, flatware, furniture, luggage, bedding, and such – our house is a hodgepodge of random, mismatched stuff. And while it’s occasionally irritating that nothing seems to match, that there’s no “theme,” and that much of the stuff is cheaply made and in mediocre condition, it’s also sort of great. It feels like a chapter of our lives is represented by that random stuff, a chapter that’s defined by being young, in love, relatively poor (though also relatively not, if you ‘relatively’ in the other direction), renting apartments, and still finding our way in this crazy-ass mixed-up world where up is white and north is short.
And then, when we register, it’s our opportunity to craft our possessions together, to choose things for ourselves that represent, in a way, the union of our two lives. We get to pick “nice things.” We get to point a laser gun at a Le Creuset Dutch oven and a really well-made paring knife. We get to think of all the nice things we want, and put them on a website. The focus on stuff, on possessions, on objects, well… it’s the weird part about all this. But the idea that we get to do it together, that we have been given this opportunity to be a little selfish, and to design the physical things around us – it’s pretty special.
And so with that said: it’s a strange experience. And then, even claiming it’s a strange experience is strange, because then I start to feel I’m sounding ungrateful. And then even claiming that even claiming it’s weird is weird and… um… I lost my thread my there.
A personal pet peeve of mine is poor reactions to gifts – I really hate that. When a gift is given, there was some thought behind it, generally some caring, some love, and even a little dollop of vulnerability – if you’re giving something that’s never been asked for, you’re presenting your idea of what this person might like.
This is not to say that gifts can’t be returned or exchanged if they don’t quite make sense. I’ve returned clothes that were the wrong size, for instance. I’ve given books to people who’ve admitted they already have them. I gave someone a cheese cutter not fully realizing that she can’t eat cheese anymore, which was kind of silly of me. But the recognition of the act of giving is significant. To me, giving a gift is a special thing – it’s a moment between two people that carries with it an implicit trust. People gift each other gifts because they care, to one degree or a another, about each other. Though we tend to decry our society’s focus on material possessions as shallow and superficial, it’s what we do with material possessions that really mean something. When we give things to one another, as cheesy as it may sound, we’re giving each other far more than the object. For my birthday, Jessica gave me (among other things) a gorgeous, amazing, and even slightly life-changing book about bread baking. She gave me a thing, yes, but she also gave me the experience of unwrapping it, of getting instantaneously excited, of flipping through the book with a doofy smile upon my face, and of all the recipes and techniques and bread that I would be trying. Not only that, but she knew I would react that way, because she knows me so well.
Gifts represent a lot. I think this may be at the root of why registering for wedding gifts was so daunting – Jessica and I were having to convince ourselves that dozens and dozens of people from our lives would give us gifts, beyond which we would be choosing the gifts ourselves. Not a foreign concept, of course, what with Christmas/birthday lists, but the act of scanning a bar code really drove home the truth that we were making a very specific inventory of our gift catalog.
So those are my thoughts on that. We will both be immensely appreciative of any gift we get, from a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to these pet mitts which we desperately need and registered for:
And in case you haven’t seen this yet, I’ll leave you with Basset Hounds Running which everyone needs to look at right away.