This has been (so far) the year of three weddings and a funeral. Funeral etiquette is easy. Turn off your cell phone, follow the wishes of the family re flowers and dress soberly unless asked to celebrate the life of the deceased by wearing something jolly, like a Hawaiian shirt.
Weddings are something else. The ground has shifted. As I remember it people sent you bed linen, you wrote a thank-you-for-the-pillowcases letter and you slept for the next ten years on your Aunt Gladys’s choice of indestructible floral terylene. Then wedding lists came in. And who hasn’t been faced with one of those where the only affordable item is a pepper mill and some wised-up early bird nobbled that.
I do buy items from wedding lists, but reluctantly. There’s something presumptious about them that I want to resist. I heard too that some couples, already kitted out with pepper mills and pillowcases, now ask for cash. And today I took another step in my 21st century education. Along with a wedding invitation came a web address where invitees can view, in addition to an overload of information about the upcoming wedding, an unusual kind of gift registry.
Donations to the couple’s favourite charity? If only. No, this is a honeymoon travel registry. You select an item from the list of projected honeymoon expenses – dinner for two on Mykonos? airport parking fees? an iPad for honeymoon Internet access – get out your plastic and donate. And while I tried to work out why this was sticking so unpleasantly in my craw I got to thinking about the two wedding gifts I already bought so far this year. I haven’t been thanked for either of them.
How long does it take to say ‘thanks’? One month? Two? What if the present never arrived? How long does a person leave it before enquiring? Darned if I know. But it does make me think, why bother schlepping around the shops when I can click on ’50 bucks towards cruise ship gratuities’ (I swear I’m not making this up) and be done. I’ll probably get an immediate automated Thanks! too which is more than I got for the Irish linen or the Waterford crystal.
So I’m talking myself round to doing it. I don’t like it but I can’t be arsed to fight it. I might spring for a dinner, or an excursion on a glass-bottomed boat. Not the Couples Massage though. I absolutely draw the line there.