I love giving gifts.
I love giving gifts so much that I will go out of my way to give to the people I love at completely random and unexpected times. If I have $20 in my bank account (and my belly is full), I'd spend every penny on something I stumbled upon if it was seriously perfect for someone. If I am fortunate to earn a significant amount of money more than what I need, I gleefully spend it on other people. Giving is something that really fills me with am immense amount of inner joy.
I get it from my mom. There are dozens of examples I could use to illustrate, but I'll give you one: no matter how much she may not have liked any boyfriend who has come before- and even not really approved of Joel the first year we were together- she would always give them "family" worthy gifts at Christmas. Generous gifts. How many parent do you know who have given their daughter's lame teenage boyfriend classy and generous gifts? Especially when said parent is probably secretly and silently hoping the relationship will dissolve as quickly as possible? Yeah, obviously my mother just can't help herself and the apple does not fall far from the tree.
The flip side of that coin is how awful I am at receiving gifts- or even compliments. I do just fine at Christmas when there is mutually gift-giving going around. But on birthdays, oh I feel so awkward. Overwhelmed and feeling an immediate urge to reciprocate- even though the occasion is not one that demands it.
One of the first things that came into my mind when it came to the wedding was how awesome it would be- to have an occasion, an excuse, an event- to give other people gifts. Afterall, it is customary to give gifts to people who help you out, to bridesmaids, to groomsmen, and to even the groom. Who cares if I don't have a wedding party- I still have a lot of awesome people that I love who will be there to help....which means gifts all around! And, being raised partially in the native American community- where the person being celebrated gives gifts to everyone else rather than receiving anything- I need no further excuse to spread the love.
That other side of the coin is lurking in the background. It's a wedding. People are going to want to share their own gift-giving joy by gift-giving to us. But the idea of registries telling people exactly what we want and requesting Lowe's gift cards (which we would love and use like crazy) seems really..... ungracious. If it's possible that doing something socially accepted and anticipated can be so, it feels like it to me.
Joel assures me that these things only help other people feel the joy of gifting while knowing that what they are gifting is something we can actually use. "Not that I think that anyone who knows anything about the school would- but you really wouldn't want someone to show up with a full set of crystal wineglasses when we have a warehouse full of them, would you?"
Well, no. But...but..buuuuuut. It just feels weird. Like a little kid with an unraveling, selfish Christmas list that rolls on with every materialistic desire. I had hoped for a little more time to contemplate this issue; the invites haven't even been sent to the printer yet. But, already I've had three people very merrily ask me where we were registered and what we wanted.
I suppose this wedding thing is an opportunity to let go of my unnecessary and inappropriate feelings of unworthiness when it comes to gift receiving; to develop a more refined and graceful manner in those moments. I will be biting my tongue tipped with flustered and abashed "Oh, you shouldn't haves" and "Oh, I can't reallys" and practicing the heartfelt "thank you so muchs" that really reside inside.
Today was the first day Joel complimented me where I just said "thanks" without giving him a full list of why exactly I didn't really look nice at all- its a step in the right direction, he did look rather relieved.