Many things in society have changed since I was younger–some good, and some not so good. I was reminded of this recently when I bought a wedding present at a store where the couple was registered. I have pleasant memories from my early twenties, when many people I knew were getting married, and I had the privilege of getting gifts for them.
The department store we used to shop at had nice music, carpeting, and a white desk just for wedding endeavors. What an enjoyable experience it was to sit with a clerk and browse through the special white book filled with the couple’s selections. After getting an idea of what they still needed, we went over to their very own display of china, crystal, and silverware. It was so easy and fun to decide what to give them. Next, the wrapping department would box the gift and cover it with lovely paper and bows unlike anything we had at home. It was a comfortable, satisfying experience, and we felt good about the presents we purchased for our friends or relatives.
Since my husband and I now live hundreds of miles from our hometown, we had not bought a wedding gift in several years. How things have changed! We entered the same store chain to cold air and hard floors, passing three unoccupied employees just before reaching a computerized system. We had become accustomed to searching for gifts this way, but this one took things a step farther.
So many items are being registered now, it’s difficult to decide what to do. Sheets, towels, bowls–almost anything a couple could want–in addition to the usual china, silverware, and crystal. Weary of scrolling down the list, we decided to print it so we could better compare. The machine made quite a ruckus for a couple of minutes, then–nothing. We asked one of the nearby clerks for assistance, and she eventually found the printout on the back of the computer. The printed list (which was longer than any Santa’s list I’ve seen on TV) was actually more difficult to read than the computer screen, but we finally found a piece of their silverware we wanted to buy. The store didn’t have it. We could order it, but it wouldn’t arrive in time for the shower.
It was bad enough that there were no displays of the selections, but we also learned that many were not in stock. The couple resides an hour and a half away, but we live in the bride’s hometown, where many are purchasing gifts for her. We finally told the sales lady how much we wanted to spend, and she located a clear glass bowl with a design around the rim. “Sure,” we said, without any enthusiasm. We were just relieved to find some- thing they wanted, and we couldn’t get excited about it. Then came the wrapping. The clerk pulled paper from under the checkout counter, and I noticed dents in it as she searched for the official seal to place on top. There was no real bow, and the package didn’t have the finesse I remember seeing in the past.
I miss the days when buying a wedding present was warm, easy, and personal. After all, it is a personal occasion.