Remember when a child's birthday was a simple celebration, maybe featuring homemade cupcakes and a nice game of bingo? Not anymore. Today cakes are gourmet, goody bags are a topic of debate and parties feature pony rides and face painting and balloon animals on demand. As guests we're faced with "no gifts" requestsand sibling gift confusion. If you thought the whole topic of kids' birthdays couldn't get any more complicated, think again. The latest raging birthday debate centres around gift registries for the wee ones.
When I first heard there was even such a thing, the idea didn't seem entirely half-baked to me. After all, most of our kids have wardrobes and toy bins overflowing with crap they don't like or won't play with, and I don't know about you but I've donated at least 13 redundant copies of Goodnight Moon to Good Will over the years. Plus, well-meaning but clueless relatives (usually of the grandparent variety) frequently ask for gift suggestions anyway. Why not collect your child's wish list in one convenient place?
I understood the potential tacky-factor ("No, sweetie, you can't put a Corvette on your list!"), but I wondered if I was overreacting. A gift registry would be helpful, convenient. Busy parents would appreciate the ease it offered -- wouldn't they? Not feeling hugely opposed or in favour, I posed the question on my Facebook wall and was blown away by the impassioned response. An overwhelming majority found the idea (and I'm quoting directly here, minus a few ALL CAPS) awful, obnoxious, rude, gross, presumptuous, abhorrent, horrifying and -- my favourite -- indescribably vulgar. "Call me old fashioned but at a birthday party you get what you get, say thank you and like it," said one gal I don't actually know but sort of wanted to high-five. Another played the life-lesson card: "There's something to be said for teaching your child to appreciate that it's the 'thought that counts' when they get a gift they don't especially love." Hard to argue, right?