Not mine, in case you thought things had really progressed at warp speed with the Man and me. No, my youngest cousin is getting hitched in town this weekend.
There are so many traditions that surround weddings. I’m sure a lot of them could fall by the wayside and not be missed — the Bird Dance comes to mind so far as that goes. But what really gets to me is the whole gift part of it, for various reasons.
Now, back in “the olden days” when a girl had a hope chest filled with those hand-made quilts and doilies she’d worked hard on every winter and was living with her folks until she married, it made some sense to hit up the friends and neighbours for the necessities once the ownership of her had transferred from Dad to that boy who courted her (aka shoved into the experience by parents tired of a lad’s unwillingness to get on with things). The newlyweds would then have to set up a home in a house devoid of, well, everything.
Generous donations would be presented to the kids by everyone who wanted to see them well, and it was good.
Think about relationships today. We’ll use me just because I’m handy. I’ve lived on my own for a while. I have towels. I have bedsheets. I have a decent set of dishes and more cutlery than I feel like washing at the best of times. I don’t own a blender or a waffle iron or a sandwich maker because the last things I need in my few cupboards are electrical toys taking up space and getting dusty. Besides, if I haven’t bought them for myself by now, I think it’s more than fair to say I’ll never need them.
The Man’s got a bunch of shit, too. Most of his is in boxes on account of current living arrangements but his apartment is packed with more crap than he can use in a day. I note for clarity that this is merely an assumption I make here as I haven’t seen the place yet.
That said it’s still a pretty good assumption that we’re doubled up on the necessities. I can’t speak for him here, but as far as I’m concerned, if I were the one getting married this weekend, what could possibly be the point of begging my nearest and dearest to buy me more stuff? In a world already filled with wasted, unused, and unneeded things, why in the hell is everyone so eager to give each other more of it?
Okay, what if I do cave to the pressure of tradition and agree to write thank-you cards to people for stuff they (for all I know) could have pulled out of their own closets and wrapped again in fresh paper? I don’t know what’s worse – wedding registries or “cash only please” stamped right on the invitation. Either way, it tells the guests, “We don’t trust you.” We don’t trust you not to collectively buy us 42 toasters and 3 puke green tablecloths to set them on. And, not only are we greedy, but we’re fucking picky, too. It must be this brand of blender, that size of espresso machine. Good grief! Whatever happened to taking what you were given and simply saying thank you, even if it wasn’t exactly what you were hoping you’d get?
Talk about ingratitude. Talk about selfishness. Who do they think they are?
They think they are the happy couple. That’s who they think they are. And of course they’re going to get presents. I plan on writing out a cheque for my cousin and his soon to be wife and will tuck it in the card with the one my parents gave me last night. Here’s why: it’s not because generosity is a virtue. It’s not done because this is a tradition either, now that I really think about it.
It’s about becoming mutual investors in the strength of their future. We’re backing these two people who about to sign their names onto promises to love and honour each other no matter if they’re rich or poor, well or ill, until Death comes tapping his bony wrist and saying, “Let’s get a move on here; I’m late for tea.” They’re going to promise all of that; the least we can do is give them a hand before they find they need it. Everyone knows that help can be a hard thing to ask for, so if we can give them that edge now maybe they’ll never have to try.
All we really ask in return is that they follow through. None of this treating people like leased cars, trading in for a newer, sexier model every couple years, or even test driving a few before the trade in. You’re saying to a whole crowd of people that you want to be together. You’d better damn well stay together then — or at least have a really good and mutual reason not to later on. We’re investing in the pair of you, so please, please don’t let us down!