Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I am coming to dinner, I will buy the plates

Only once, maybe twice, in your short life will you call me, practically panting, and nearly voiceless from having called your parents, siblings, and friends and shouted the same words, "We're getting married!" When you make this call, rest assured, wherever I am, and even if I am engaged in a truly detestable activity (polishing the silver, changing a diaper, or ironing napkins leap to mind), whatever I am holding, including the phone will drop to the floor. My face will grow wide with an honest-to-goodness grin, not the kind the receptionist at the salon gives you before she hands you the smock and waves you off to the changing room. And I will squeal with joy with both hands in the air. When I get back to the phone, I will ask you so many questions to which you have few answers and whatever answers you think you have will change dramatically in three months time. Everyone you tell will have a reaction similar to this gushing and wildly excited romp through my memories and hope for your future. Why? Everyone loves a happy ending, their own, and yours. That is the first incontrovertible fact of a wedding in the making, okay?

Now you have my attention, my good wishes (that is not just something scribbled on a card, I really mean it), my prayers, and my attendance. So, don't be bashful. Do not fear the best place settings and the fine silver you adore. If you choose not to represent your most magnificent material wishes on a registry, you will not be celebrated the way you truly deserve to be. Worse, it indicates you need to be reminded who you are, and who I am:

You came into this world, most probably, in a hail of screams, joy, tears, and unbridled happiness. You were welcomed onto this earth by two parents who would die for you well before you arrived, a family brought to knees for the addition you were, and instant friends who have stood by you, and will, cradle to grave, my friend. You are a magical and precious star, and you have been since the first moment you glimpsed us, took your withering original exhausted breath, and felt chilly. Your world leapt right then to warm you and to make sure this life held promise and beauty. They do not mean to fail you now. Not now, when you've only begun to plan, daydream, and begin a whole new set of goals. Among these goals, should you know it or not,is to see a select group of people at your table because they are in your corner.

If I am one of those people, and I should be, because I am in the corner of humanity in general,
and I am coming to dinner (more on cooking later, not to worry, help is on the way!) then, I do not mind to get you those gorgeous plates you love. Even, the ones from France, even, with current exchange rates, even though they look more dressy than you imagine yourself, because I am celebrating you, you magical star from back in the delivery room! I know you, and I care about you, I want you to have things you love to look at, even if you never use them.

Lois and her equally marvelous, gracious husband gave me my flute glasses five years ago. They come out for all the great moments of our lives, and wherever they are at that moment, I look at those glasses and they are with me. Forever in my toasts, forever with my happiest moments.

I cook a great deal, two or three times a day. My beautiful chef's knife was a gift from Rebecca.
It is a menacing looking piece of German engineered steel, and it has prepared every meal served in this home since before we were married. She is with me, in a quality thing, that contributes to who we are as a family, each day.

Now, I had a lot of registries when I was married; My husband is from far away, some of the guests vocally wished for one company over another. I was foolish enough to think it mattered to keep many others happy in this endeavor. It did not because I have learned since, they are trying to make you happy, and therefore, do whatever you want but before you do, memorize these words: Pick the best, most lovely, and important thing I could ever place in your home. Love it, truly, love it. I want you to, because I want to be there, with you, in a joyous way, for all time.

Someone I met not long ago reminded me of this sentiment in telling me she had registered for a costly decoupage tissue box cover when she was married. As years pressed on and brought joy and pain, she always reached over to that box, looked at that floral pattern she so adored, and was reminded of how she was not alone in whatever she was feeling. It was a gracious, old school gift that might otherwise be overlooked for its thoughtfulness, but it was thoughtful, was it ever.

If you feel you have missed your chance, don't. We are all still here, giving gifts, though maybe not with the same enormous pile-on that is the wedding festivities. You still have time to dream. My friends, send us your registries, at any age and dream on of those things you would love to see each day. Including me, when I come to dinner, and your place setting tells me my visit was important enough to put out something you adore.

These old stand-by retailers are my favorites for both practical and sentimental reasons. While they have great websites, their retail floors are twinkling palaces ablaze with museum quality refinements which are barely good enough, dare I say, to be in your home, my dazzling star, but try nonetheless to imagine which ones would mean the most to you. Then, raise us up on email, by homing pigeon, or here, and sure enough, we'll all make a note of it. For years surely do go by that we wonder what all you might like to see appear on your doorstep.

Michael C. Fina
Tiffany & Co.

We will only do this dance once, you and I, for real. The second time, I will be just as thrilled but often you go off quietly and I don't get the chance to celebrate you in earnest a second time, an opportunity I also would not want to miss.

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