After a 25-year hiatus, I have recently gotten back on the wedding merry-go-round.
Not mine. Other people's.
Every woman has gone through that period in life when all her friends are getting married - one right after the other.
As I remember it, it was a dismal time of hideously bad bridesmaid dresses and hideously expensive gifts of china and crystal the couple never used, either because they never entertained or they never entertained an odd number of guests.
This time around, it is the children of friends who are getting married, and the good news is that I can wear the same little black dress to every wedding, no matter how long it takes to get this next generation married off. The bad news is that the bridal registry business has left me behind in the last 25 years.
I felt like Rip Van Winkle when I set out to purchase shower and wedding gifts for the daughter of my friends. I was able to do the entire transaction online, including choosing the gift-wrap, writing the card and mailing the packages to the bride's house long before the wedding day.
I had a picture of every item the couple wished to receive, as well as an automatically updated count of how many place settings or wooden spoons or highball glasses were still needed.
I also learned that you can register for gifts anywhere, except perhaps the corner gas station or the local liquor store, and for any occasion.
Expectant mothers can register at Babies 'R Us, kids can register their Christmas list at Toys 'R Us (letters to Santa being so low-tech), new homeowners can register at Home Depot and high-school grads can register to furnish next fall's dorm room at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Inspired by all these people who are choosing their own gifts, and not wanting the train to Avarice and Acquisitiveness to leave the station without me, I went out and registered at Williams-Sonoma.
I know. I know. I can hear the criticism now.
What was she thinking?
Williams-Sonoma over Pottery Barn?
But I was swept away by all the little gadgets, such as the lemon zester and the ergonomically correct pizza cutter, as well as the big-ticket ones - the All Clad Master Chef cookware.
The matching herb-scented counter cleaners, window sprays, floor cleaners, hand lotions and liquid soaps really registered with me. But the lavender ironing water sealed the deal.
If you are making a list of all the gifts you'd like to receive from other people because you would certainly never buy them for yourself, lavender ironing water has got to be near the top.
The French linens, the Tuscan dinnerware ... I keep the Williams-Sonoma catalog by my bed, and then dream the dreams of the consummate casually elegant hostess.
So, I will be sending out engraved notices on ivory linen stationery with blue-black ink to all my friends and acquaintances with the news that I am now registered at Williams-Sonoma.
I can think of no system better suited to the husband and children who would not be able to say what gifts the wife and mother might like if kidnappers were asking.
And, unlike brides or kids with Christmas lists, I will be pleased to receive gifts from this retailer for years to come and on a variety of different occasions: Mother's Day, my birthday, my anniversary, Christmas. As a hostess gift or simply because you were thinking of me.
Gift registries are swell for brides just stocking a new household. But they are ideal for the harried working mother of teen-age children: the woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to say it, but to whom no one is listening at the moment.