Registry etiquette

In general, whenever I have been invited to a wedding or baby shower, if the couple has a registry, I will always buy a gift from the registry or give cash. This makes the lives of all of us much easier: we know that the couple will like and appreciate the gift because, well, they themselves chose it. And there’s no guesswork needed, nor is there pressure in terms of how creative you can get with the gift. I recently finished reading Adam Grant’s book Give and Take, and in it, he succinctly says that if you are a giver (in other words, a good human :D), you will buy a gift off a registry or give cash. What you will not do is try to go off registry and buy something else… because in that case, you are thinking about yourself and your own orientation and what you think would be best for them. And in sum, a gift is supposed to be about the recipient, NOT the giver.

So it was weird when I received a long-winded email from my uncle when he wanted to explain that he didn’t get us something off our baby registry and decided to go with something else. While I am always appreciative of gifts and do not expect gifts (I mean, I’m not forcing anyone to get us a gift), this was just odd. He said that given the ongoing pandemic, he wanted to get us something fitting, which ended up being… an automated soap dispenser with soap refill. “This way, both parents and baby will keep safe,” he explained.

A soap dispenser isn’t baby or mama related directly, and his rationale for going with this just seemed so strange and out there. In addition, we already have an automated soap dispenser, so why does he think this is such a superior gift compared to any of the items I had added to our registry? The most absurd part is that he purposely didn’t even check off the “this is a gift” box on Amazon and just had it sent without a tracking or order number (he admitted this when I told him the item came already open/seemingly used), and without the ability to return or exchange it. My uncle has sent me many gifts from Amazon previously over the years, and he had always checked this box off before. So in my head, I wondered if he did this purposely and/or even facetiously.

Regardless, we were able to return it and get Amazon credit for it, but in the back of my mind, I wonder what real rationale he had when he did this and if he was trying to send some weird message to us in doing so.

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