In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 23, 2014 / 25 Sivan, 5774

Wedding gift registries tell guests it's not the thought that counts

By Jeff Jacoby

JewishWorldReview.com | I’ve always taken a dim view of wedding gift registries, on the principle that greed is bad and greed masquerading as courtesy is worse. But I relented, just for a moment, when I read about the public’s reaction after learning that Jon Meis, the Seattle Pacific University student who disarmed a killer during a school shooting, would be getting married this month. Grateful strangers not only bought up every item for which Meis and his fiancee had registered, but also donated $50,000 to pay for their honeymoon and other expenses. The upwelling of generosity was heartwarming.

Yet gift registries in general are anything but. What began in the 1920s as a way to let wedding guests discreetly find out a couple’s preferred china or silver patterns has metastasized into institutionalized avarice, crass and mechanical. It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but you’d never know it from seeing affianced couples prowling through Crate & Barrel or Macy’s, avidly zapping bar codes with handheld scanners while visions of high-end espresso machines and flat-screen TVs dance in their heads.

of registering for gifts long ago branched far beyond weddings.

“When Jordan Weinstein turned 32, he did not send out invitations, host a party, or even have a few friends over for cake,” began a recent story in The New York Times. “What he did do, however, was register for gifts at REI, the sporting goods store, and then distribute the link to his mother, fiancee, and brother to pass around.” It didn’t occur to him that there was anything sordid or gauche in doing so. “There’s this social requirement that you give a gift,” he said, “but a truly good birthday gift is hard.” And what is a “truly good” gift? As far as Weinstein is concerned, it’s one that matches “exactly what you want: the color, make, model.”

Clearly you don’t have to be a bride to think like a Bridezilla.

Everyone’s heard the arguments in defense of wedding registries. They make gift-giving easier for guests. They reduce the time newlyweds must spend returning unwanted or unneeded presents. They solve the mystery of what to get for couples already living together who have the traditional items guests might be inclined to give them. They’re convenient for out-of-town friends and relatives who may not be attending the wedding but nonetheless wish to have a gift shipped.

Some find that rationalization persuasive. I say it’s spinach.

Convenience is nice, but it doesn’t override civility and good manners. Gifts are never an entitlement. Those who give them shouldn’t be discouraged from using their own taste, judgment, and imagination. Yet registries strip the thoughtfulness from gift-giving. They are hardly more than glorified shopping lists, with other people paying the tab. What a shabby way to treat other people’s generous impulses. It’s not your thought that counts; it’s your money. Use it to buy us this stuff.

It can be hard to see this for the blatant greed it amounts to when the wedding-industrial complex blows so much smoke to argue that it isn’t. TheKnot.com, a major wedding-planning website, assures readers that they can safely ignore “wedding registry myths” that give some people qualms. For example, “Myth 7: Never register for items that are too pricey. You’ll look tacky.” (“Nothing should be off limits,” comes the response — remember that people may “chip in together so they can buy a more expensive present.”) Or “Myth 11: It’s wrong to add honeymoon activities and flat-screens to your list.” (Response: “Absolutely not. Really, it’s not . . . Don’t feel guilty or weird. Friends and family want to buy you things you’ll really use.”)

Perhaps young children, writing letters to Santa, can be indulged in compiling lists of presents they crave. Adults shouldn’t be. Part of maturing is learning that there are worse fates than being presented with a gift that isn’t “exactly what you want: the color, make, model.” Like never knowing the pleasure of receiving a gift that the giver put some thought into. Or delighting in a present that you would never have thought to ask for — but still turned out to be just perfect.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist.

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