It may sound weird, but I have avoided completing my bridal registry like the plague. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. I started my registry at Hudson’s Bay Company in February one evening, after my mother insisted my fiancé and I get on that. We set up an online account and added a few things, including towels and a juicer. Soon, however, I felt so uncomfortable I had to take a break to calm myself down by rewatching my favourite episodes of Veronica Mars. Now, months later, we’ve yet to finish the registering process. I’ve put off responding to multiple emails from The Bay asking me to come in for a registry consultation, and I’ve been procrastinating on going online again to add things to our gift roster. It’s gotten to the point where my beloved aunts are even calling to ask why I’ve requested so few things!
Not only did I register for fewer gifts than is considered normal, but I also did such a poor job with my first feeble attempt that half of the things I registered for are discontinued. I didn’t even NOTICE! So, why am I so incapable of registering for wedding gifts?
Before getting married, I thought I’d be much more enthusiastic about my registry. Please do not misunderstand me here: I’m honoured and appreciative that people we love want to bestow gifts upon us for tying the knot. Their generosity moves me to tears in a way I previously thought only that “Christian The Lion” video from 2009 could do. At the same time, I’m ambivalent about my registry. There is a large part of me that, to be blunt, simply does not feel…worthy.
Of course, part of me is uncomfortable because I believe it’s unfair brides and grooms get to register for tons of presents just for getting married. Folks who opt out of marriage do not receive the same opportunity. I feel people should be no more entitled to receive free blenders for getting married than for turning thirty, or finishing graduate school, or learning how to knit. At the same time, I personally endeavour to get around this double standard by telling my friends and family they do not HAVE to get us anything if they do not wish to/cannot afford to right now. I also plan on giving our unmarried friends as lavish gifts as I possibly can for the milestones they choose to celebrate. All of this should probably assuage my guilt. Why then do I feel so damn guilty about accepting wedding gifts from people who want to give them to my fiancé and me?
I believe my awkwardness about accepting wedding gifts comes from the general awkwardness I encounter whenever anyone does something nice for me. As women, many of us have been conditioned by society to feel we are always unworthy. For example, I earn less money than my white male counterparts for doing the same work. Women who like shopping (i.e., women who enjoy buying things they earned with their own money) are branded by the media as shallow. Meanwhile, car ads targeted at men wax poetic, as if owning vehicles were a sacred male right, despite the fact that cars’ fossil fuel emissions are literally killing the planet.
As a woman, I was conditioned to think about my own needs as little as possible. I was called bossy if I suggested we play a new game at recess. I was called greedy for being interested in money, while boys with the same fascination were referred to as “entrepreneurial.” And don’t even get me started on how women are treated when they ask for a raise! Being a woman means people train you to expect less, so that when someone wants to give you more, it can be difficult to accept.
The sad truth is, filling out a gift registry makes me feel like a greedy monster. I wish it didn’t – and it definitely shouldn’t – but it does. At the same time, as a life-long feminist, I know I owe it to myself to resist the pressure of a sexist world to believe I deserve nothing. I want to teach myself that if people choose to give me something – whether it’s a homemade card or a fancy juicer – it’s because I deserve it.
I am no more or less worthy of receiving gifts than the next person. The time has come to finish filling out that wedding gift registry. Wish me luck!