Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Alternative Gift Registry

For the first time, one of the families at church is pregnant. I'm pretty excited about what this means for our community. They're a very cool couple. They live in a community house with 7 other people. They all bought it together. They ride their bikes all over. The wife and I serve on the Leadership Co-op together and I am fascinated by how different our personalities are. I like them, but am not on the same personality wavelength so forming a relationship with them is definitely taking practice. It doesn't feel natural but I think that repetition of interaction will change that.

Which is why I was so pleased when she came over to me while I was washing dishes after dinner at church to tell me she was pregnant. How nice to be included amongst the folks who get told deliberately.

I recently dug up a scrap of newspaper for her that I had torn out about www.alternativegiftregistry.org.

Over the last several years, I've attended several showers at which not one of the presents was unexpected. All came from a list that the recipient had made at a particular store. In fact, I did this myself when I got married. But recently, this practice has started to disappoint me.

I've gotten to the point where acquiring the "perfect" thing has lost its appeal when perfect means "exactly what I decided ahead of time I wanted." I want good quality things and whimsical things and useful things but my happiness in a thing is no longer based on whether or not it is what I expected.

It's probably a reflection of my belief that if you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.

I've lived that life of specific expectations.

Its only equilibrium is disappointment or dissatisfaction.

Also, I'm trying to consume brand-new things less and would often prefer used items out of the back of people's closets or from craigslist.

I want people to choose things for me that they know work well or that they believe I will like.

Being surrounded by manifestations of people's time and love and thought has become more important to me than getting what I think right now I will like forever.

Of my wedding presents, the only things I still have and cherish are my silverware (totally practical), a bowl a friend chose for me and measuring spoons another friend chose for me. Everything else was deemed unnecessary when I made the big purge before I moved to Washington.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. But I sat at a baby shower once and constructed a plan to make a generic list (changing table, diaper bag, etc) when I got pregnant someday and to have a friend manage it so that people could have the convenience of knowing what I wanted and knowing that they wouldn't be giving duplicates but that they would have the freedom to use their own expertise, closets, and style to help contribute to my family's well-being.

So, all of my daydreaming was fulfilled in Alternative Gift Registry. It does all of that AND let's you link to specific items or artists, as well as allowing you to link to charitable sites.

Happy baby, Emily. I hope you'll be the first of a new movement in gift-giving.


Lisa said...

At the last baby shower I attended, the mom-to-be requested that all items be either: second-hand, locally purchased and/or handmade. It was the best shower I've been to and it was beautiful to see the creativity and generosity of other women with non-consumerism bent.

Emily DeWan Photography said...

This is awesome! What a great idea. Why have I not heard of this before?! I too have always disliked registry lists, and have only once bought off of one.