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Gift Registry, or My China-Sized Ego

'Morning Glory Gift Wrap' photo (c) 2009, - license:

Thanks to so many of you who participated in the poll a couple of days ago! It really surprised me how few people registered for fine china, and made me a little sad that I still have boxes of it at my parents’ house. At the time I got married (7 years ago) I thought I had to register for china and crystal and an extra set of flatware. So now I have boxes of china, crystal, and flatware in two states.

I’ve been debating how much to get into the registry process in the book. I definitely want to stay away from giving readers a list of “Dos and Don’ts for a Christ-Centered Wedding Registry.” At the same time, I think there are things to think through before we register–things I wish I would have thought through.

I recently sat down with some of my best friends and we talked about what we wish we had known when we registered for wedding gifts. My sister-in-law and I both agree we would not register for china if we had it to do over. For one thing, I just don’t use it. Occasionally Erik and I use it for a special dinner or I’ll get it out for Easter. But we just aren’t fine china people. We’re t-shirt, jeans, and Chinet people. Also, we have no room for an extra set of dishes, glasses, and silverware. And I’m not sure we ever will. And if we did, it would just mean we had extra cabinets where we could store things we never use. So again, not practical for us.

However, some people are china people. I get that. They use it to make guests feel welcome. They use it to honor people and show them they are important. They minister to others in this way. And that can be a great thing. But I struggle with my motivation–if I get out the china is it to show people I love them, or to show them how much I’m loved? Is it to make them feel important, or to show them how important I am? Now, please know I am talking about myself here, not anyone else. I just know myself well enough to seriously question my motivation. I am a people-pleaser and a praise-craver. So if you ever come over and I serve dinner on china, please do me a favor and don’t compliment me on it. Together we can crush this ego of mine.

My college roommate, Randi, said she would think of her registry now as a means to practice the joy of hospitality. I love this. And the beautiful thing about it is that it’s different for each of us, but it gives a goal and a vision for the ministry of marriage. If your desire is to serve the body of Christ and to serve your neighbors, co-workers, friends–how can you best do that? I think a lot of it comes down to how we view our possessions. I don’t believe possessions are inherently bad or good; it’s how we use them that matters. And so the question is what is your motivation for registering for these things?

And just to preempt any fears you might have of where I’m going with this, I think there is a great benefit to things that allow us to relax and recharge. So I certainly do not want to give anyone the impression that only those things that directly relate to tangible service should be registered for. And this is why I’m not sure how much to delve into this subject in the book. It is, like everything else in life, a matter of the heart.

For more on a ministry of hospitality, there is a great series currently going on over at Grace Covers Me.

I hope to do a couple more posts on this topic in the coming days, but in the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you wish you would have registered for? What do you wish you would not have registered for? If you’re getting married now, how is the registry process going for you?

2 responses »

  1. Hi

    I’ve just read your posts about wedding registrys so thought I’d add my 2 cents.

    I live in the UK and am a christian who got married later (age 35) so already had a house with loads of stuff as did my husband (age 31).

    We felt it was greedy to ask for yet more stuff so we set up a wedding fund for Tearfund- a Christian relief agency. We asked people who wished to give us gifts to donate there instead. We felt this reflected God’s generosity to us and care for widows and orphans.

    We did however set up a small registry at a department store for those who didn’t want to support our choice of charity, others who really wanted to get us something, and to appease older Northern Irish relatives who felt tradition was everything and were upset that we weren’t “entertaining”. “Entertaining” is as far as I know a Northern Irish custom (although it may be current in other places) where the week before you are married, the mother of the bride and the bride entertain all the female relations and friends (tea and cupcakes) and everyone views the wedding presents. Money is pinned up the side of curtains and whatever the (hopefully) benign origin of the tradition it has turned into a huge opportunity for gossip, comparisons, and showing off. We really felt that this was wrong and my husband who is Scottish was appalled by the custom.

    We didn’t ask for china etc on the registry as I had inherited some from my Granny and we don’t have a big enough house for 3 sets of china, just for stuff like double duvets etc.
    Hope this helps

  2. Oh before I forget-I got distracted by explaining entertaining! Having a charity as your registry is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Most of my friends both christian and not, have done this-although I know it can look like “how holy are we”. Most people I know who are having registry lists these days are younger marriages (23-25) where they are more likely to need the stuff.


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