I just read the story about the newlywed bride who sent a Facebook message to a guest, complaining that she "only" gave 100 dollars as a wedding gift. The message said in part:
"Hi Tanya, how are you? I just want to know is there any reason or dissatisfaction of Mike's and I wedding that both you and Phil gave 50$ each? In terms of the amount we got from you both was very unexpected as a result we were very much short on paying off the reception because just for the cocktail + reception alone the plate per person is 200$..."
The guest, offended by this bit of tackiness, apparently retaliated by spreading the bride's name and message all over the Internet. This comes just a few weeks after a similarly disgruntled wedding guest went public when a just-married couple sent him a text message a day after the reception to complain about the gift basket he gave them.
Ok. A few things.
First, let me officially voice my full support for this wonderful method of public shaming. Some people are so incomprehensibly boorish, so unbelievably miserable, that one is left with no choice but to subject the offender to international ridicule. Think of it as an intervention. Only you aren't a drug addict -- you're just an ass in the first degree. I've long been a vocal proponent of bringing back the stockades, and maybe even a tarring and feathering here and there. It's cheap, effective, and it can be a family friendly event for the whole community.
Second, these two women are not the first people to complain about gifts they've received. I've personally witnessed this behavior many times, and I'm not just talking about at toddler birthday parties. This should go without saying, but I guess nothing goes without saying anymore: It's never ok to be anything less than happy and thankful when you are given a gift from anyone, for any occasion. Period. No exceptions. Not what your were expecting? Not what you wanted? Doesn't fit? No receipt? You already have one of those? Not your style? Not your taste? You don't particularly want a pet lizard? You don't have any room for a full sized taxidermied ostrich? It looks like they stole this candelabra off your mantle, put it in a shoebox and then gave it back to you as a Christmas gift? Cool. You know how you should handle it? "Thank you, it's great, I love it." Then shut your mouth and smile. You aren't a god or a king, you're just some person. It's a gift, not a sacrificial offering. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept it. I've really noticed this problem more and more often with older "kids" -- 14, 15, 16 years old. What the hell is happening in this society? I think the last time I verbally expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction with a gift I was about two. And then I learned how to be a civilized human being. I just wish everyone could develop that skill as well. Plus, who the hell wouldn't want a dead stuffed ostrich?
Third, is it any wonder that in a country where marriages dissolve faster than Alka-Seltzer we've managed to turn weddings into tedious, overly dramatic, stressful, joyless affairs? Most cultures, present and past, know that weddings are a time for drinking, eating, and general merriment. We've decided to go the regimented, stress-filled, unnecessarily expensive route. In other words, we've done to weddings what we've done to every other holiday and celebratory occasion. Now, yes, I speak here as a man. I would have been happy if my own wedding reception was held in somebody's backyard, with plenty of beer and burgers, and featuring a competitive beanbag toss tournament. No pomp, no gifts, no color coordinated table settings, no formal dances, no schedule, no drama, no wedding planner, no flowers, few expenses, no pressure, no stress, no people. Well, maybe a few people, I guess. Anyway, you get the idea. But, since I am a man, I didn't get to make those calls. In fairness to my wife, our reception, while much more extravagant than a backyard BBQ, was still very loose, fun, and full of booze, dancing and revelry. Alissa is not the high maintenance Bridezilla type, so the shindig was a blast for all involved. Yet those high maintenance narcissistic Bridezillas seem to exist in a great multitude, and they are dead set on making their wedding receptions as stodgy, lifeless and uncomfortable as possible. Apparently this often bleeds over into the marriage itself, which explains the high divorce rate. Speaking of which, if you invite a thousand people to your wedding in order to get a thousand gifts, you should be required to return every single dollar and kitchen appliance you receive if you get divorced within 5 years of the wedding. My wedding gift is an investment in your future, so if you have no future I expect my gift to be returned, with interest. I'm not exactly sure how you work out interest on a food processor, but we can figure that out.
You know, weddings and holidays don't have to be stressful, expensive and full of drama and hurt feelings. I mean, I don't think they have to be. We could all just have fun, have some drinks, and eat too much, like God intended. It's a strategy worth trying, don't you think?