Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Strange Wedding Present

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

-Leonardo da Vinci.

This summer we made a trip to attend the wedding of some friends of ours. We fretted ever so slightly about what to bring as a gift: they had not mentioned a word about what we ought to bring, except to say that our being there would be enough. When my Spouse and I urged that we wanted no gifts at our own wedding, we meant it. I am sure our friends meant it just as much but it is difficult when you are on the receiving end of that firm statement.
We travelled to the wedding with a package of photographs from our last trip to see these friends; we selected one photograph and placed it in a typical wedding-style silver frame. The bride was mighty pleased with them, as they had not expected us to bring anything.
The day before the wedding ceremony we took the bride to one side and asked her to please think about what we could buy, something that she needed, perhaps, for the home. She looked aghast: surely the photographs had been ample? She had thought those were the wedding present! We pleaded with her, and she promised to think hard about the matter.
In a few hours, she said quietly to me, "I thought of something you could buy. But you're going to think it's a bit strange." I replied that we did not much care how strange it might be: if it turned out to be something they could use and had been thinking about for a while, we would be more than happy to buy it for them. She pointed out, reluctantly, that their kitchen waste bin was made of wood, which meant that while aesthetically pleasing, it could never be completely cleaned. It also was flawed in that the base was narrower than the opening, causing the bag of rubbish to perpetually become stuck at the bottom. Usually it took the pair of them to pull the bag out because of the small opening. This struggle, she said, was causing rows and arguments about who should take the rubbish out. It would make their lives easier if they had a better-functioning rubbish bin. It also had a very nasty snapping lid which reminded one of a crocodile who has just been fed. She was embarrassed to ask but did admit that they needed a new one. They did not wish to spend money on a replacement: it would seem too frivolous to them to do so.
Off we trotted, then, to Walmart, and our friend selected a new waste bin for a humble, modest sum.
She has since told us that, including all the towels and kitchen appliances, gadgets and ornaments and out of all the gifts they received for their wedding, nothing has been as useful to them in their daily life as that waste bin. She says that they think of us every time they go to take the rubbish out, a compliment we take with good grace.
It should always be about what can be used and valued. It may not have been a typical wedding present but it positively had the most impact in their home.

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