Register for This

My wife and I are considering registering for gifts we’d like to receive. In this, the season of graduations and weddings, I thought it might be appropriate. We really don’t have any occasion to celebrate, but we are in desperate need of some new stuff.

When we got married almost 20 years ago, gift registries weren’t the big business that they are today. Back then, registries were a service offered by just a few stores – they were more of a way of sharing gift ideas—you made a list (note: you actually made a list—put pencil to paper and wrote things out) of what dinnerware pattern or bedding design you liked and then people could choose to buy those items for you if they wished.

I remember we only registered at one department store (just for plates and a few other housewares). We were also registered at the bicycle shop, but that’s okay: I worked there and I needed a new helmet.

Seems to me like gift registries today have morphed into a greed-induced method of determining which friends really like you (and how much they like you) and an opportunity to gather all of the stuff you can.

It’s not just for weddings any more. There are registries for practically any event from bridal showers to baby showers. Heck, it’s not just showers, it’s a torrential downpour of buy-me-something-off-my-gift-registry events. It wouldn’t surprise me if you use a could gift registry to announce anything: “In honor of cutting my toenails next week, I’m registered at Best Buy.”

The retailers encourage the greed. Give consumers a beeping price-gun thingy (a technical term) and they go crazy like Richard Simmons on a Twinkie-induced sugar rush.

Beep. Oh, yes, we need his-and-her watering cans. Beep. Don’t forget the lighted, touchless and warming baby wipe dispenser. Beep. What home is complete without a dog hammock?

It’s gotten crazy. Truth be told, how many of the gifts from registries really ever get used? Those fancy crystal bowls probably will spend their life behind glass in a china cabinet (if they’re lucky – it’s a cardboard box in the attic if they’re not). For most other registry purchases it’s a waiting game: wait until next year’s yard sale.

What ever happened to thoughtful gift-giving? I much prefer gifts that require consideration, rather than being an item on a checklist. In fact, we still regularly use and appreciate several gifts that never entered our wedding registry radar. If you gave us the large cooler or the electric knife, thank you. Unfortunately, if you were among those who gave us the peach-colored dinnerware that we needed, I’m sorry. Those items went on eBay years ago.

I’ve never have been fortunate with gift registries. While in college, a friend of mine and I pooled our meager resources to buy a wedding gift for classmates who were exchanging vows. We bought them one of the most technologically-advanced items on their gift registry: a handheld portable vacuum.

About six months later one of the members of the wedding party told me the happy couple was divorcing. Curiously, I wondered aloud who would get custody of the Dustbuster.

“Neither of them,” my insider-friend told me. It seems that during one especially heated moment of marital bliss, the bride chucked it at the groom – and missed.

Our gift-registry gift was busted to dust.

I’m still bitter about that, but if you want to help cheer me up, maybe a gift would help. I’ll be registered at the home improvement center, the electronic store and the supermarket. Oh, yeah, and the bike shop.

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