Registering

“Do you really think we need a waffle maker?”  I raised my eyebrow at R, who held the scanner clutched carefully in his grip as if he was afraid someone might take it from him at any moment.

We were registering for wedding gifts.  Having watched my sister and her friends all go through the wedding process years ago, and my friend B go through it again recently, I was familiar with the concept.   Couples getting married registered for all sorts of things to set up their new household together, and their well wishing friends and relatives used that list to purchase wedding gifts.  At the end of the day you had a bunch of new stuff that you needed for your house, and your friends felt good for helping out a poor couple just starting out.

Except.

R and I had both lived on our own prior to living together.  And we’d been living together now for a year, so our “household” was pretty firmly established.  We didn’t really need plates, or silverware, or glassware, or an iron.  We already had all of those things.  To me, it felt kind of silly to ask people to give us those things when we already had them.  I didn’t feel like our friends should be asked to pay for “upgrades”.

But in talking with my friends, and Rs expansive family, it was agreed that we could register for some things.  People wanted to give us gifts.  Most of my household goods were not of my own choosing; they were the things I’d inherited with the condo after my mother passed.  And R had even less choice about some of the items in our shared home; he had just moved in last year.

We agreed then that we would not register for some of the traditional items.  Formal china, for example, I had from my grandmother.  I’d inherited my mother’s beautiful set of floral, gold leaf china that she’d always used for holiday dinners; I’d always loved it.  My sister hadn’t needed it, having registered for formal china when she married, and my brother certainly had no occasions to use formal china.  We wouldn’t register for silly little things like measuring cups or flour canisters or wire whisks; we had all of that.

What we had done instead is inventoried what we did have that needed replacing or what we didn’t have at all.   Our dishes were chipped and mismatched; we’d register for a set of those.  We didn’t have a good set of glassware;  all of mine consisted of various pieces collected from fast food restaurants or plastic cups for children to use.  And so before long, we had a growing list of items to put on our list.

“Sure, a waffle maker would be nice to have.  It’d save us money from buying the frozen ones.  Batter is always cheaper than convenience foods.”

I shook my head as I heard the blip from the scanner putting in the waffle maker.

And so it went; a vacuum, a frame for our anticipated wedding photo, cookie sheets.  No muffiin tin, no mixer, no iron, no ironing board.  We slowly went through the houseware section of Hudson’s and filled our list.  Finally, we stopped in front of the dishes.

“I don’t want anything too fancy,” I said.  “This is supposed to be our every day dishware, so let’s keep it simple.  Maybe something all white.”

R nodded and we wandered between the displays, every so often putting one out for the other to look at.  We just couldn’t agree.  And then, all of a sudden, I stopped in my tracks.

“What is it?” R asked, following my glance.

In front of me was a set of all white dishware.  The only adornment was a simple calla lily embossed into the plate.  R had never met my mother, her having died before I’d met him.  But he knew well the significance of the calla lily, it having been the only flower my mother wanted at her memorial.

Without a word, he put the scanner in front of the bar code on the plate and scanned it.  I felt an arm reach around my shoulder and give me a squeeze as a single tear slid down my face.   Maybe she was here, somehow, after all.

 

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