Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

10 February 2010

Another Wedding? We Already Gave.

I have a small piece of cut glass, an attractive vase about 8cm high in the shape of a Scots thistle. It was given to my father and mother as a gift on their wedding day on 4 April 1930. Their marriage lasted until my father died in 1983. Whoever it was - a friend or relation perhaps – that gave them the present it lasted in their memories over many years and probably became increasingly valuable as a memento of a momentous day.

A young woman of our acquaintance got married and before the event a ‘shower’ was held at her home. This was a knees-up to which all those invited were expected to take a gift for the bride-to-be. 

For those not lured into that web a list was distributed of things the happy couple would like to be given; the list was also deposited at a local ‘up-market’ department store. The idea was that if you decided to give them, say, the 36 piece Sevres dinner service you approached the department store to check whether it was still unallocated to a donor. If it had already gone you were invited to scrutinize the list so that you might, say, opt for the unallocated signed Picasso print.

Showers and lists: detestable practices at the best of times. Blackmail in disguise. But what makes it all so much worse is that the marriage went from bliss to divorce so quickly that there was probably never a chance either to hang the print or dirty the Sevres!

Were the gifts returned to the givers? No way. They were probably part of the divorce settlement; the party of the first part keeps the Sevres, the party of the second the Picasso.
What’s really galling is that the ex-wife is about to become married again. Another wedding invitation? Shall we be expected to come down generously in the next shower? Or, if we aren’t invited, to choose off the new list?

It’s a real dilemma. I think we might decline any invitations either to shower or wedding. In fact I think I might deliberately break a leg or arm to avoid any of them. Or perhaps I could write and say: ‘Please continue to keep the present we already gave but apply it to your new wedding.’ Or maybe we’ll give them a promissory voucher cashable for something from The Warehouse in two years’ time if the marriage lasts that long.

Or – and it’s just possible the secondly-weds have a conscience – there might be a quiet register office ceremony with nobody outside the families invited. We can but hope but we shan’t hold our breath.


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By Don Donovan