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The Rudeness of Registries
Townhall.com ^ | June 22, 2014 | Jeff Jacoby

Posted on 06/23/2014 7:54:34 AM PDT by Kaslin

I'VE ALWAYS taken a dim view of wedding gift registries, on the principle that greed is bad and greed masquerading as courtesy is worse. But I relented, just for a moment, when I read about the public's reaction after learning that Jon Meis, the Seattle Pacific University student who disarmed a killer during a school shooting, would be getting married this month. Grateful strangers not only bought up every item for which Meis and his fiancée had registered, but also donated $50,000 to pay for their honeymoon and other expenses. The upwelling of generosity was heartwarming.

Yet gift registries in general are anything but. What began in the 1920s as a way to let wedding guests discreetly find out a couple's preferred china or silver patterns has metastasized into institutionalized avarice, crass and mechanical. It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but you'd never know it from seeing affianced couples prowling through Crate & Barrel or Macy's, avidly zapping bar codes with handheld scanners while visions of high-end espresso machines and flat-screen TVs dance in their heads.

This odious business of registering for gifts long ago branched far beyond weddings.

"When Jordan Weinstein turned 32, he did not send out invitations, host a party, or even have a few friends over for cake," began a recent story in The New York Times. "What he did do, however, was register for gifts at REI, the sporting goods store, and then distribute the link to his mother, fiancée, and brother to pass around." It didn't occur to him that there was anything sordid or gauche in doing so. "There's this social requirement that you give a gift," he said, "but a truly good birthday gift is hard." And what, pray, is a "truly good" gift? As far as Weinstein is concerned, it's one that matches "exactly what you want: the color, make, model."

Clearly you don't have to be a bride to think like a Bridezilla.

Everyone's heard the arguments in defense of wedding registries. They make gift-giving easier for guests. They reduce the time newlyweds must spend returning unwanted or unneeded presents. They solve the mystery of what to get for couples already living together who have the traditional items guests might be inclined to give them. They're convenient for out-of-town friends and relatives who may not be attending the wedding but nonetheless wish to have a gift shipped.

Some find that rationalization persuasive. I say it's spinach.

Convenience is nice, but it doesn't override civility and good manners. Gifts are never an entitlement. Those who give them shouldn't be discouraged from using their own taste, judgment, and imagination. Yet registries strip all the thoughtfulness from gift-giving. They are hardly more than glorified shopping lists, with other people paying the tab. What a shabby way to treat other people's generous impulses. It's not your thought that counts; it's your money. Use it to buy us this stuff.

It can be hard to see this for the blatant greed it amounts to when the wedding-industrial complex blows so much smoke to argue that it doesn't. TheKnot.com, a major wedding-planning website, assures readers that they can safely ignore "wedding registry myths" that give some people qualms. For example, "Myth 7: Never register for items that are too pricey. You'll look tacky." ("Nothing should be off limits," comes the response — remember that people may "chip in together so they can buy a more expensive present.") Or "Myth 11: It's wrong to add honeymoon activities and flat-screens to your list." (Response: "Absolutely not. Really, it's not. . . . Don't feel guilty or weird. Friends and family want to buy you things you'll really use.")

Perhaps young children, writing letters to Santa, can be indulged in compiling lists of presents they crave. Not adults. Part of maturing is learning that there are worse fates than being presented with a gift that isn't "exactly what you want: the color, make, model." Such as never knowing the pleasure of receiving a gift that the giver put some thought into. Or delighting in a present that you would never have thought to ask for, but which turned out to be just perfect.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: creed; wedding

1 posted on 06/23/2014 7:54:34 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

By the way, only 6 more shopping days ‘til my b/day.


2 posted on 06/23/2014 7:58:54 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 1 Cor 16: 32)
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To: Kaslin

Gift registries don’t bother me.

Go online. Click here. Click there. Boom, you’re done.

If that’s too much trouble, then write them a damn check.


3 posted on 06/23/2014 7:59:20 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Kaslin

Registries for young couples just starting out with little money is one thing.

But registries for a couple in their 30s who already have plenty of money is ridiculous.


4 posted on 06/23/2014 8:00:35 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Graybeard58
only 6 more shopping days ‘til my b/day

Well I don't see your wish list!

5 posted on 06/23/2014 8:02:08 AM PDT by grobdriver (Where is Wilson Blair when you need him?)
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To: dfwgator

How about a couple who’ve been previously married and divorced and now living together?


6 posted on 06/23/2014 8:03:58 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd
Gift registries don’t bother me. Go online. Click here. Click there. Boom, you’re done. If that’s too much trouble, then write them a damn check.

same here--they do not bother me... and the prices run the gamut... we registered when we got married... some people used the registry, others did not... some wrote checks... for those who did not use the registry, we kept most of those gifts... we did return the extra coffee makers and blenders we received... 5 blenders! i think we kept two of them... and we did not expect people to give us gifts... we knew most would, but it was not required... neither was it noted if someone did not... i cannot even say if any of our guests did not give us gifts... we did receive gifts from some who could not attend our wedding...

gift registries are also very helpful with baby showers... i cannot see myself doing a registry for a birthday...

7 posted on 06/23/2014 8:09:27 AM PDT by latina4dubya (when i have money i buy books... if i have anything left, i buy 6-inch heels and a bottle of wine...)
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To: dfwgator
But registries for a couple in their 30s who already have plenty of money is ridiculous.

why? there will be people who still want to get a gift for the couple--bride and groom... i would... and i find it helpful to know what they want or need... if they do not register, i would simply give them money--or a gift card for a lovely dinner...

8 posted on 06/23/2014 8:12:00 AM PDT by latina4dubya (when i have money i buy books... if i have anything left, i buy 6-inch heels and a bottle of wine...)
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To: Kaslin

I like gift registries for weddings and, perhaps, for first babies. What I don’t like is the responses I’ve gotten from some brides (or the non-response). I’ve received thank you notes that went along the line of, “Thank you for the place settings of our table flatware (or fine china). It will useful if we ever have guests.” Well, Muffy, YOU are the one who asked for 12 place settings. I finished it out for you. Don’t act surprised. Act PLEASANTLY surprised.

Then there was the bride (a stewardess) who asked for an electric wok and registered her kitchen color as red. I bought her a red, electric wok. Never received a thank you, or an acknowledgement, because she walked out on her husband during the honeymoon (to rendevous with a pilot) and decided that the foresaken groom should write the notes to friends of his family. Of course he didn’t do it. She also waited a year before filing for divorce so she wouldn’t have to return any gifts.


9 posted on 06/23/2014 8:12:03 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Responsibility2nd

“Gift registries don’t bother me.”

Amen! This guy’s life is too damn easy. He needs to find something important to worry about.

Wedding gift registries make life easier for those of us who want to give something and eliminates the new couple getting 12 new automatic coffee makers.

A lot of newly weds, we knew as children or teens and really haven’t any concept of what they need as young adults going into a marriage. A registry lets us know.

If everything in our budget range has been bought, we will buy a gift card from the store holding the register.

The same principle applies to baby showers. Instead of getting a dozen of something, the new parents get what they need.


10 posted on 06/23/2014 8:17:04 AM PDT by Grampa Dave ( Herr Obozo, the Sunni WonDoer, will not divert $'s from his war on Americans to help our Veterans!)
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To: Kaslin

Marry a Dago (I can say that, because I am one).

Italian relatives don’t give a flip about gift registries; they send cash.


11 posted on 06/23/2014 8:31:25 AM PDT by LadyBuck (Some day very soon, Life's little Twinkie gauge is gonna go......empty.)
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To: Kaslin

A gift registry itself doesn’t bother me. As with so many things, it’s the attitude. I’ve known wonderful people who are truly appreciative of every gift, and tacky selfish people who complain that so-and-so “should have” spent more.


12 posted on 06/23/2014 8:41:03 AM PDT by workerbee (The President of the United States is PUBLIC ENEMY #1)
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To: Graybeard58

ohhhh noes and yet payday is two weeks away....my intentions were good though. ;)


13 posted on 06/23/2014 8:44:19 AM PDT by Nifster
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To: Kaslin

GIven the price of a wedding these days, I say shut up and gift! Or write a large check.


14 posted on 06/23/2014 8:44:57 AM PDT by NeoCaveman (DC, it's Versailles on the Potomac but without the food and culture)
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To: Responsibility2nd

When Hubby and I got married and combined two households into one, we BEGGED people to not get us stuff. Most people were really sweet and listened. Best gift we got was a gift certificate for a night at a local bed and breakfast.


15 posted on 06/23/2014 9:10:12 AM PDT by Hoffer Rand (Bear His image. Bring His message. Be the Church.)
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To: Responsibility2nd

I have a cousin who got married and divorced with in a year. She was getting remarried soon after to the slimeball who knocked her up while she was still married. When we got an invitation to her BIG second wedding I said that the batteries in the clock I got for her first wedding were still working.


16 posted on 06/23/2014 9:16:15 AM PDT by cyclotic (America's premier outdoor adventure association for boys-traillifeusa.com)
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To: Kaslin
Frankly, I invited people to my wedding because I wanted them there, not because I wanted their gifts.

But, not all people think the same way I do. Wedding registries are both a convenience, and a curse. And, for people who register for megabuck flatscreen TVs ..... that's just tacky. I don't care what some website says.

Now - I *do* think that baby registries are a pretty good idea. Saves the parents from figuring out what to do with 50 newborn outfits that make all the attending girls squeak "that is just SO SO SO!! cute!!!!!" .... and will never get worn. That, and getting on those mailing lists got me a fortune in coupons from the manufacturer. I don't think that I ever once paid full price for diapers, or formula. All those $2 $5 and $8 dollar coupons / rebates in the mail, added up. :-)

17 posted on 06/23/2014 9:18:51 AM PDT by wbill
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To: latina4dubya
5 blenders! LOL...glad that I'm not the only one.

The "in" gift when Mrs WBill and I got married was crystal water pitchers. We received 12-15 of them. They all got returned and we used the proceeds to buy silverwear and china. :-)

18 posted on 06/23/2014 9:21:30 AM PDT by wbill
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To: latina4dubya
latina4dubya said: "... 5 blenders! i think we kept two of them"

My wife and I began using the last of the toasters we received at about the 25 year mark. Who knew toasters didn't last forever?

19 posted on 06/23/2014 9:32:56 AM PDT by William Tell
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To: wbill
we used the proceeds to buy silverwear and china.

You mean, like a mail shirt made of mithril?

20 posted on 06/23/2014 10:55:01 AM PDT by Disambiguator (#cornedbeef)
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To: Disambiguator

LOL! Love it. Maybe I should hang a spoon on my nose and call it good.


21 posted on 06/23/2014 11:12:25 AM PDT by wbill
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To: wbill

That would make for a great wedding superstition! https://vintagelaceandlinen.com/linen-lace-blog/Wedding-Superstitions/


22 posted on 06/25/2014 10:08:31 AM PDT by willyd (I for one welcome our NSA overlords)
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