I’m in a dilemma that I’m sure many have experienced: There’s a 3-4 month period when everyone near and dear to me seems to have a birthday, one right after another. And while I know them like the back of my own hand, I have trouble thinking of that perfect gift, and the pressure of thinking up a one perfect gift after another can prove to be too much trouble. In that light, weddings can feel like a blessing, a break from the game of trying to surprise someone with a perfect gift. Which is why, when I see articles about couples who find the gift registry distasteful , I want to scream. We have to get dressed and drive out there and make small talk with your elderly relatives and dance badly to some corny music. Please let us have the relief of knowing what to get you for a wedding gift.
I realize that people who shy away from the registry mean well. On paper, the registry seems greedy and presumptuous. But in reality, what’s way more greedy and presumptuous is wanting the ego-fluffing of the surprise gift that happens to be just what you wanted-wanting someone to have spent the time and energy listing out what they know about you (or researching to find out) so they can come up with their own ideas. In the real world, the registry signals that you respect your guests’ time and energy and don’t want to give them the headache of having to guess at what pattern of towels you’d prefer or research whether you already have a certain kitchen gadget.
I usually adore Miss Manners, but her war against the registry is simply misplaced. If she honestly thinks that it’s delightful to go to Crate & Barrel and figure out which painfully tasteful set of coffee mugs will delight the bride, then she needs to get out more. And as for the woman in the article who objected to couples listing silly items like cupcake spatulas on their registry, I have to ask who has the time and energy to sit in judgment on someone else’s kitchen supplies? Maybe the bride really likes cupcakes. They are quite fashionable right now.