Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Want The World, I Want The Whole World

I have always had a hard time with gifts. I love to receive an unsolicited gift, but I hate when someone asks me "What do you want for your...[fill in the blank] ___________ - Birthday? Chanukah? Anniversary? Valentines Day?" I end up distraught; the idea that someone is spending their hard-earned money on my whims causes me more stress than joy.

Now don't get me wrong - my position on this issue is a nuanced one. I'm all for a little consumerism and I love the idea that I might get surprised with a Birthday / Anniversary / Holiday present that is, say, a lovely new sparkly pink unsolicited iPod, but I have a terrible time demanding that such iPod be purchased.

Of course, the irony is that both my family and Mr F work on this premise (i.e., "It's your Birthday. What do you want?"). Needless to say, I end up not getting presents for many events because I cannot - without oodles of guilt - make such demands.

I'm pretty sure this guilt comes from a variety of sources - (1) my parents not having a ton of extra money when we were growing up, (2) their stress about said lack of money (and as a corollary, their kind reminders that that we didn't have spare money and thus I should appreciate every cent spent on my dolls (first), clothes (later), and college (ultimately)) and (3) finally, the oy vey on the crown of the Chosen people - Jewish guilt. The latter of which can account for pretty much every neuroses I have - from fear of airplanes to malnourishment. That being said, I'm absolutely sure it has a place here as well.

And while we're playing psychologist, if I had to venture a guess, I think that never writing a "list" to Santa (flat out telling the big guy what I want) has clearly had some far-reaching ramifications. I knew I was totally getting screwed with Chanukah, no matter what my parents claimed! Eight days, schmeight days.

Given my giant black sack of gift issues (gissues?), you might be able to imagine what a frickin conundrum "registering" has been.

At first, I thought "Well, put a ring on my finger and call me a wizard! If this isn't the best and most exciting thing in the WORLD! I can go around and pick things I like and they will just 'poof'...appear!"

Even before I got engaged this seemed like a pretty good gig. I actually remember watching the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" (like 900 times) and thinking how fab-u-loso it must be to walk into Tiffany's and just PICK THINGS.

My goodness, my Guinness, I have wanted to walk into Tiffany's and pick out things my whole life. Now I can! The magical ring gives me a power I have never had before. Precious, indeed.

But then, as I started to browse online and ponder what we "needed," I had an enlightenment.

I began to suspect that the items are not magically delivered to my doorstep and it seemed highly plausible that little wedding fairies are not the ones who place them on my kitchen counter while I am asleep. Perhaps...real live people buy these for me. People who work. A lot. They spend their hard earned money on the silver-plated soft boiled egg holder or the trio of pewter hand crafted bowls. It dawned on me that registering was doing exactly what I hated. I was asking people to buy me things.

Silly things.

And expensive things. That I don't normally buy. Ever. As I've mentioned numerous times, I try to buy things at discount stores. So going into Bloomingdales and registering for a $50 towel, when I know that I can buy that same towel at TJ Maxx for $10 is painful. It's like throwing away forty dollars. But it got worse than that. Because of China.

Sorry, I don't mean Beijing, or the home of the 2008 Olympics. (Although I'm still reeling over the fact that they wouldn't let the girl sing who was deemed "not pretty enough" to be the face of the Opening Ceremony.) Anyway, I meant "little c": china.

My family doesn't have heirloom china. And I love to cook. So it only makes sense that I would register for china, right?

Flash forward to Bed, Bath and Beyond (where I agreed to register since everyone can use the plethora of coupons they provide and everything will be 20% less). I am standing with my Mom in front of the china. Crying. I cannot believe that it costs $160 per place setting. Per place setting! And a place setting doesn't even include a SOUP BOWL. The point at which a place setting stopped including a soup bowl is clearly beside the point - but holy soup du jour - that is $220 for 5 pieces of china. Multiplied by 12. And my fiance is a total klutz. That adds up to well, approximately a few thousand dollars worth of heartbreak and broken china.

My mom is speaking to me in calming tones about passing down these bowls to the next generation. But it's just so much money. I can't get over it. (Note that the salesgirl is looking at me as if I am insane. I'm sure many people come in and pick the $300/per place setting without a second thought. I am clearly not that person.)

Despite my inability to pull the trigger (literally, I can't figure out how to work the stupid "scanner gun"), I do have to register for things. People will want to buy gifts for my shower and I don't want to end up with 10 coffee makers. (Or do I? Yum, I love coffee.) To avoid spending all of my days on the return line at Macy's, I need to register for things and so, it might as well be china. Because if I don't choose china, then I will just end up selecting...well, crap. And at full price. A spatula at $19.95? I mean, come on! It's a spatula. It's plastic. It should be no more than $5.

And to top it all off, the silliest part is that registering doesn't even get you what you want (or at least what I want) because you can't register at 20 stores for one thing each. If I push out of the way the troubling feeling in my stomach caused by demanding my friends spend tons of money on me and think about what it is that I really want, I realize that it's unique and beautiful heirloom items that I can't "register" for. I would love a piece of framed art or photography (bought online or from an artist's gallery) that we would have forever hanging on our wall that I would always remember was a wedding gift. Or I would like a menorah (not the ugly ones at Bloomingdale's or Bed Bath and Beyond but something beautiful and handmade) that I will imagine my kids will remember as the one they used for lighting the Chanukah candles each year. Or a totally unique hand crafted platter to serve food on at holidays - not the same one that a million people have in their homes because we all registered at the same place.

My head is spinning. And it's lunchtime. So I will make one demand that I feel wholly comfortable making. I'm going to let Mr. Chiu know that I would very much like him to deliver me some sushi.


Alexa said...

wishpot (www.wishpot.com) You can browse the internet and add things from all sorts of website (from Etsy to Anthropologie, or whatever stores you like) so they all show up on 1 registry. It does presume that your invitees know how to use the internet though.

caitstclair said...

That's exactly what I was thinking! Although I thought I remembered one called myregistry.com or something. I haven't looked into which are the good ones, but I'm pretty sure it's come up a time or two on weddingbee. You might try searching there.
Or did I hear a rumor that Amazon has a registry thing now? That might be worth looking into?

I'm totally with you though. I hate giving present ideas, although I'm completely hypocritcal because I always harass my sisters about what they want. I just can't stand getting someone something that they don't really want!

Anonymous said...

Ifound registering to be the MOST stressful part of wedding planning, so far (granted, I'm still 7 months away). The choices, the idea that people are judging your taste and wondering where you get off asking for something like that. Also, competing advice about "get what you need" and "register for something you love and would never buy yourself". It was the worst.

hwong14 said...

1. I totally agree with the guilt. 2. We're using myregistry.com and it's great. You CAN register for one thing each from 20 different stores. Exactly what you truly want. (We also did BB&B, but duplicated some things onto the online registry, too.)

Anonymous said...

if you don't want to register for gifts there are a lot of charitable organizations that allow you to create registries as well. My favorite is Heifer International (www.heifer.org),

Engaged & Enraged said...

thanks for all the suggestions! i guess my issue with one of the "inclusive" online sites is that i'm not sure how people will know i'm registered there. most of my friends/family have now learned to go to theknot or weddingchannel but those only show featured partners (like bloomies, BBB etc). that being said, i might just register there for the heck of it anyway... maybe my bridesmaids will tell people for the shower :)

Manders said...

I've been reading your blog for sometime now... Can I just say, I know what you mean! OY VEY, indeed! I'm planning my wedding for next October, and it's been one crazy instance after another... Anyway, we're registering at Myregistry.com. It totally makes sense, because people DO want to buy you presents and you might as well get something you're going to want to use/look at, so it doesn't end up in a drawer...closet...trashcan... only to be pulled out when the gift giver comes over.

Your bridesmaids should send out an insert in the invite to your bridal shower telling guests where you've registered.

Giftcards are good too, for places you like to shop, often. Then, as my fiance likes to say, you can get your "shopping fix" when necessary!

Happy Registering ;)

invisiblyrose said...

another vote for myregistry.com! though i found the bad thing with that site is that it relies on the buyer to say that this request has been fulfilled, which will be tricky for my tech-ignorant family. if you get multiple of the same thing you're at the mercy of each vendor's return policy.