Monday, March 12, 2012

The Law of the Gift(s): Our Wedding Registry Saga

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China this pretty classes up all your meals.  Even takeout.
Image: The Terrier and Lobster

It's like Barbie's dream house, but for real: you get to make the ultimate wish list, arrange place setting combos to your heart's content, and try out more pillows than Goldilocks.  Building your wedding registry is one of those things that makes your impending marriage really sink in.  When you're choosing the exact comforter you'll snuggle under every night and the very wineglasses you'll use at your first dinner party as a Mrs., it becomes kind of impossible not to imagine your married life in a new way, doesn't it?

As giddy as I was to scan away, I learned a few things about myself as I planned my registry.  I learned, for example, that the best places keep your coat for you and offer you sparkling water and snacks.  I discovered how weird it is to sense what feels like everyone in the store's eyes on you as an associate unlocks cabinets full of knives for you to test out.  I was totally dismayed to find out that Andrew thought a cake stand, Euro shams, and a dozen champagne flutes (for when all of our kids come home for Christmas one day!) were totally unnecessary.  He was right, of course.  I actually forget what shape a Euro sham is.

This, ladies, is what I really came away with.  While completing something as seemingly straightforward as picking out items for our future nest, my initial bewilderment eventually granted me the vision to see Andrew with more truthful eyes than ever.  It's surprising how many lifestyle-related issues, like spending habits, necessity vs. luxury, and now vs. later, come into play when it comes to choosing household things you'll share, even if you've talked about money before.  I can remember practically skipping into Bed, Bath, & Beyond last February, with subdued but chipper fiancĂ© in tow, thinking that the day's most difficult question would be what color KitchenAid mixer I wanted.  What I wanted.   I have to confess to you that I turned into a girl I never wanted to be- you know, the one who gets carried away with the precise shape of her drinking glasses and spends the better part of an hour picking out designer bath towels, then snaps at her husband-to-be about not needing a light-up universal remote or something.  I'd fought it, but there I was.  By the time my eyes teared up in response to Andrew's insistence that we would never use an ice bucket, I realized I was being a complete lunatic.  Throughout my engagement, I'd been pretty proud of the fact that I'd avoided any major crying jags or remotely Bridezilla-like moments.  We'd never tried to one-up each other in any other situation or badger one another until someone gave in.  I'm still not sure what made me think this was an okay time to start.  Oh, Lord, how you humble me.  It took me way too long to realize it, but I began to understand that even if I was the one more interested in our potential cookie sheets, I didn't have the right to steamroll the guy I couldn't wait to share snickerdoodles at midnight with.

Maybe you're wondering what the point of all this is.  I hope I made you laugh, at least.  I told you this story to share the most lasting item I got from my gift registries.  Hint: it's far more lasting than pasta platters and a cocktail shaker.  We left the store exhausted and ready to talk about anything but our wedding.  I considered how patient, how genuinely loving this man was.  Rather than ridicule my love for for kitchen gizmos, Andrew had bemusedly, good-naturedly taken them in stride.  When we disagreed over what we actually needed for our first digs, rather than what I thought we might use way down the road, he'd never been forceful or irrational.  Instead, he'd nicely told me the reasons for his opinions, and we talked about them.  I didn't even deserve nicely, but my husband really is extraordinary.  You want to know something beautiful about love?  The amazing thing about it is that when you truly, completely wish the very best for someone else, grace makes you willing to put what you want aside.   This is probably nothing new to you, but it can shake you to your soul, in the best way, when you really stop to contemplate it.  Surrendering your will to your beloved doesn't diminish your freedom; it amplifies it because you're giving of yourself.  It brings you deep contentment to do it.  Blessed John Paul II called this the Law of the Gift.  He said,

"Limitation of one's freedom might seem to be something negaive and unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful, and creative thing.  Freedom exists for the sake of love."  

With all of your planning and talk of wedding gifts, it's easy to forget sometimes that you and your fiancĂ© will become the most profound gift of all to each other.  So my prayer for you is a sense of presence.  Don't worry about receiving everything you register for, or about picking the wrong size dessert forks.  All in good time; in His time.  Be present, and before you know it, you'll be standing at the altar becoming presents to each other.

Next up: Love lessons from a phenomenal teacher

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