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26 June 2002

It's become common practice these days to let prospective wedding guests know where the bride and groom are registered.

You can register just about anywhere. Not just department stores like Macy*s, but hardware stores, sporting goods stores, other specialty stores (I'm wondering what the weirdest type of store there is which has a bridal registry!)

Most bridal registries are accessible on the Internet. No longer do you have to leave the comfort of your own home to shop for a wedding gift. No longer do you have to be creative in wrapping a gift. No longer do the bride and groom have to wonder what they're getting for gifts. A click of the button will send a pre-selected item, wrapped by the store, to the bride and groom. No more carting packages to the wedding reception.

(No more chance of snafu's like happened at Paul and Audra's wedding, where one of the groomsmen very conscientiously made sure that all the cards were stacked together in one place, so they wouldn't get lost, and all the packages were elsewhere--when Paul and Audra opened their gifts, they didn't have a clue who had given them what!)

It all seems very civilized...very...sterile.

I suppose when you are preparing to set up housekeeping, it's nice that you know all the plates will match, that you don't get four toasters and no towels, etc. But there is a certain something missing from the whole experience now.

With a lengthy list of gifts in all prices ranges from which to choose, the chance of receiving a real white elephant are lessened. While this is good from a "homemaking" standpoint, how sad that couples no longer find themselves saddled with ugly-as-sin gifts that you can't possibly give away because your favorite Aunt Bessie chose it specially for you.

Where's the fun?

Where are the stories down through the years?

While it's nice to have service for 8 in your silverware pattern, and a full set of good china for guests, it's the "unique" gifts that are remembered through the years.

It's been 37 years (today) since we opened a stack of wedding gifts. I'm afraid that I can't remember who gave us a spoon, or a plate, or a cup and saucer. But whenever I look at that battered old silver bowl, I think about my Uncle Jim.

I loved my Uncle Jim, but I almost never saw him--and really he didn't know me at all. Still, as the oldest uncle, he had a charisma that drew people and though he was unable to come to the wedding, I was thrilled when I saw that there was a gift from him and his wife. Something forever more to remind me that we were "family," and to know that he cared enough to send a gift.

When I opened the box, I wanted to cry. It was a small, battered, tarnished old silver plated bowl. My mother knew instantly what happened.

I come from a long line of alcoholics and alcoholics who married alcoholics. Jim was probably in AA by the time Walt and I got married, but his wife was an alcoholic. Apparently he would give her money to buy things, like wedding gifts, and she'd take the money and use it for booze, while picking up some very cheap thing at a junk shop.

The small, battered, tarnished old silver plated bowl was not on my wedding registry, and I've never used it, but I still remember when I look at it that it came from Uncle Jim, and the circumstances of its purchase.

There are several unique gifts we received which I still use, and which always make me think of the giver when I use them.

But there is one gift which I've never used, but which has sat on display all these years. The one white elephant that were never able to give away for fear the giver would have his feelings insulted. It's the infamous punch bowl.

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It's a ceramic punchbowl, which was made by our friend Bob Jessup, who was an artist (sort of !!). He made this specially for us. I'm not really sure what this says about us--or him. I'm not sure why he felt that the head of a woman with fruit on it was the perfect gift for us. (It's not even a good punch bowl--it's much too small--and, if I remember correctly, has a crack in it!)

But we never knew when Bob would drop by, so we kept the damn thing on display. I occasionally dusted it, but not often.

Bob died of AIDS several years ago, so now we keep it as a memory of a nice friend who once was kind enough to make us a special gift for our wedding.

Maybe wedding registries aren't such a bad idea after all.


Quote of the Day

Somebody should have warned the Trojans. Beware of gifts bearing Greeks.

--Solomon Short

Picture of the Day

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I didn't take this, but isn't it funny?


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