Wedding gifts for a new age

2012-04-18 00:00

WHEN my parents got married in 1956 it was de riguer in their circles to give the happy couple a silver bell as a wedding gift. The kind of dainty, tinkly object that first summoned the family to dinner and then called the “boy” or the “girl” to clear away the used plates and bring the next course.

Strangely perhaps, my only memory of that bell is of using it to summon my mother when I was sick in bed.

When I was married in the eighties, it was practice to set aside the gifts you wanted in a Bridal Registry at a department store. Since most of our friends were just out of university and as penniless as we were, we didn’t choose much and told our guests that just two side plates or one dinner plate from our chosen dinner service – sensible, hand-made pottery – would be most welcome.

Our parents’ friends had other ideas. Perhaps still living in a bygone era, they gave us several of the mandatory silver bells as a wedding gift, all but one of which we returned. Needless to say, it has never been used for its intended purpose of summoning the hired help. Our children regard it as an oddity and use it sporadically to call the family to supper.

If you are wondering what inspired these musings, here’s the answer: another of the wedding gifts we received from some of our parents’ smart friends was a china tea set, fully intact until recently when I broke the teapot lid.

After 28 years of use, I reckon that counts as a good innings and I’m glad for all concerned that I was the one who broke it.

This incident led me to wonder what I would put on a Bridal Registry list if I were getting married today. Call me strange, perhaps, but my answer brought me up short, as it’s a succinct reminder of just how our lives have changed.

This is what would be on my list today:

• generator (for power outages);

• pothole repair kit (need I say more?);

• chainsaw (for clearing the roads of storm-damaged trees);

• weed eater (for cutting municipal verges);

• wonder box cooker;

• gas-powered lights;

• rainwater tank; and

• head lamps.

I wonder if today’s Bridal Registry lists stretch to these essentials or still focus on the more genteel crockery, cutlery, linen and glassware of my day?

Welcome to life in the Wild West of the midlands.

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