Besides all the long breaks I take from work, I mean. Enough of heavyweight sad morose blog posts. These days this blog makes me sick. So I decided to take a few minutes to write about something a friend and I were discussing yesterday.
The concept of gift registries. A hallmark of this increasingly obnoxious consumerist life and society we live in.
My first brush with them was when I was invited to a friend's wedding here in the US. We were given a link to the wedding registry, which had a nice itemized list of all the things the to-be-wedded couple would need, wish for, or fancy having. The gifts ranged from serving spoons to crockery sets to toaster ovens to fancy ottoman (ottomen?) and what have you. The were spread across two stores: Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. Although this was a really good friend and had I gone to pick her a special gift I might not have put too stringent a cap on the price (if I found something just right for her, and within reasonable limits), when it was all here listed it was easy to sort by price and look for something within my budget.
My budget being pretty much in the lower end of the range. It turned out that most of the items that were at the lower end of the range were gone already! Others who got to it before me had already picked them, and what were left were the more expensive items and a few within my range. Anyhoo, I settled for a couple different items I thought looked nice. Even easier for me, I could have gone online and ordered it and wouldn't even have to bother going to the store, but I went anyway. Once I got to the store, I found that I could print out another copy of the registry, most recently updated thus no gifts would be repeated. Furthermore, the list had the exact aisle number and rack on which you could find any said item. So you just had to stride down the aisles, match catalogue number, pick up the gift and mention the registry while paying for it so that the list could be updated again.
Now I am very much a fan of functionality, utilitarianism and ideas such as this real-time updating etc. In any other setting, I would be completely wowed by this kind of efficient management. But I think that gift giving still shouldn't be such a clinical affair. What happened to the fun of searching through stores, wondering if it would suit your friend, picking it up, packing it in fancy paper, etc? What about the surprise factor in opening up a gift not knowing what it is going to be? Shouldn't some part of the joy of gifting belong to the gift-giver? I certainly didn't get any joy out of this process, where my friend literally demanded, in a very impersonal fashion to me and 50 others what she'd like as gifts, and it was left between us to squabble over who gets to the least expensive gift first! Do not give me the argument of ending up with 20 rice cookers. Gifts are supposed to be just that, gifts. You don't have a say in them, you take what you get and feel grateful for it, for the thought. If its ugly, don't wear it. If it's one too many, exchange it or pass it on..but to demand upfront seems pretty presumptuous and just plain greedy to me. If you need spoons or fancy a leather ottoman then buy it on your own dime! I don't see why your wedding guests should feel obliged to stock up your new life with all these essentials and non-essentials.
Heh. What started out as a small break and a change from morose posts is turning into a rant. :-) Time to get back to work now, methinks.