A Sweetest Find

Many of you won’t know this about me. My mom will.

I hate registries. Hate them. Bridal, baby, whatever. I think they are appalling.

It is beyond rude to come up with a list of things you want and then ask people to go buy it for you. Just because it is socially acceptable doesn’t make it right.

Aside from the rude factor, I think it also sucks all the joy out of gift giving. Wrapping up a package of dish towels and a spatula doesn’t incite me to any emotional reaction at all. There is no spontaneity when you use a registry. No personalization. Nothing about the gift that would remind you of the people who gave it to you.

It is sad. The purpose of a registry was designed to give people  what they need and to ensure no duplicates. Are duplicates really such a problem? Just take one back.

And giving what people need? Let me tell you something, I don’t want gifts that I need. I want gifts that I will enjoy and love. I want gifts that are singular and unique. I want gifts that remind me of the giver or of an inside joke or a special moment. I want gifts that are wholly impractical, gifts that I would never buy for myself.

That is just a smattering of the things that I think about when I choose to give someone a gift. I buy gifts for people when I see them, when they connect, rather than when they are needed. I love choosing gifts for people. I think it is a privilege and an honor to give someone a piece of yourself that they will keep in their homes and their lives. That isn’t ever accomplished with a baking dish.

And, if you are the kind of person that isn’t creative, or doesn’t choose to be, or would prefer to give a practical gift, then cash pretty much always works.

So, given all these reasons, why would you ever shop from a regsitry? I wouldn’t. I don’t.

When my sister got married, she had a registry. One guest (aside from me) gave a gift that wasn’t on the registry. That friend gave them a framed, black velvet, Asian Elvis picture. It is hideous. Truly atrocious. But, the giver in question KNEW it was horrible and included a laugh-out-loud funny note explaining how every new couple needs an Asian Elvis. I think my sister was horrified when she opened it, but now, it is something that they treasure. It is hanging in their home and whenever they see it, they smile and think of Mary. The note is also framed and hanging beside Elvis, so friends and guests can get in on the joke.

I thought that was one of the most original, humorous gifts I’ve even seen. I can think of people I know who would appreciate a gift like that.

Some of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten were unique and personal. When I graduated from high school, Kelly gave me $10. But not cash, instead it was in casino poker chips, so we could go together and play blackjack. This came after the hours we spent in my kitchen, learning blackjack with my older brother.

When I graduated college, Mindy and Tom gave me a pillow. A pillow? Yes, a pillow. It was made by Mindy and crafted out of old, unusual neckties, including some of Tom’s. That is one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever gotten, and it has traveled with me to DC, to the Czech Republic, and now is in my own home.

These are the gifts that I remember, the gifts that have meaning, and they couldn’t have come from a registry.

Well, that was quite a rant, hmm? Why am I telling you this? Here is why.

My friend, Meg, and her newly minted husband, Kevin, got married in January. I was invited to the wedding, but unable to go. It was unfortunate, because it sounds amazing. When I got the dreamy, romantic, literary invitations (which I loved and would like to blatantly plagiarize one day) I knew that theirs would be a dreamy, romantic, and intellectual gift. It just suits them.

It didn’t take me long to come up with the idea of naming a star after them. Dreamy? Check. Romantic? Check. Intellectual? Check.  Seemed perfect to me.

I went to the International Star Registry (and I just realized it is called a “registry”, I guess this is the only kind I like!) and chose a constellation. This took some work on my part, there are trillions of stars out there. I wanted something in the Northern Hemisphere, (they shouldn’t have to travel to Uruguay to see their star) and something that has a great story. I looked at ALL the available choices and then researched the mythology behind the constellation.

I ended up choosing Cygnus, the swan. There are several myths as to how this constellation came to be, but the one I liked best is the story of Orpheus. He is considered the father of song. He was legendary musician and poet. He fell in love with a woman named Eurydice. On their wedding day, she was tragically killed. He traveled to the Underworld and asked Hades, the God of the Underworld, to restore his love to life. He then played a song to Hades and his wife, Persephone. The song was so mournful and beautiful that they were moved to agree, which was the first time that had ever happened.

They restored her life, on the condition that as they were leaving, he could not turn back to look at Eurydice until they at gotten fully to the surface. He tried, but he wanted nothing more than to see her face. When he reached the surface, he looked back, but she hadn’t gotten there yet and she disappeared forever.

He vowed to never love another woman, and held true until the day that he died.

Upon his death, for keeping his vow, he was cast into the heavens and reformed into the constellation of a beautiful swan. The swan, historically, sings a mournful song, just before death (Swan Song). That is how Orpheus became a swan. Next to him, formed the constellation of  Lyre, in honor of his wife, for whom he had created his most beautiful songs, on his favorite lyre.

That’s how I ended up choosing Cygnus as the constellation for Meg and Kevin, then I renamed it after them, “Kevin and Meg, A Sweetest Find”. The name was chosen to honor their blog, that tells the story of their love. The star kit was being sent directly to them at their new home, along with a typed card that should have borne the message I wrote about how I chose their constellation and my congratulations to them as they start their new life. And, obviously, my name.

Then, this morning, there was a new post on their blog.

Imagine my surprise to find my gift FEATURED on their blog. Evidently, the fine folks at the International Star Registry forgot to include my thoughtfully worded card and poor Kevin and Meg have had no idea, in all this time, who this gift was from. Thank goodness for technology that allowed them to create that post and for me to answer in kind.

The gift is from me and it made my day to see it featured on the blog.

It is funny that my carefully researched, chosen, and executed gift ended up being a mystery.

This is a very long way of saying that I hope they enjoy that their love is now permanently ensconced in the sky. That they can always look up and see a reminder of their wedding and their love. Now, that’s what I call a gift.

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