I’m writing this post 13,000 feet in the air en route to Kansas City for a business trip. As I work, I admire the sleekness of the ultra-thin keyboard, the lightness and modern convenience of my iPad, and marvel at how futuristic these tools would have seemed just five years ago. It also strikes me that the very technology I’m using to write this post will be obsolete and lying in a recycling pile (or worse) in three years’ time. We live today in a throw-away society, where we purchase things with the understanding and casual acceptance that it will be tomorrow’s trash.
My husband and I recently celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. Reflecting on that lovely day and the wonderful time we had with friends and family, I found myself looking around my home, appreciating the generous wedding gifts we had received and silently thanking the sender…the large wine goblets from my co-workers…several beautiful vases…my favorite soup pot from a foodie friend…the wine bar that sits in our living room.
But it struck me how many of the items for which we had registered and received were no longer around. The spice grinder had long since stopped working. The coffee pot had to be replaced last year. The towels are on their last stringy legs. It made me realize the possible folly of my registering for everyday, common items. By doing so, I had practically guaranteed that many of my wedding gifts wouldn’t last past the first decade of my marriage. I know that I am not alone in doing so; many of my friends who have gotten married in the past few years were registered at popular houseware or “mega” stores…all for nice or useful things, but not things that were likely to last. For the same amount of money spent, we could have had something that we could pass down to future generations.
I think back to the days when gifts for major milestones – births, graduations, marriages – were designed to last for a lifetime (and them some). The idea that an old woman could pick up a tarnished silver soup ladle – now with a silky patina – and recall her excitement at unwrapping the shiny item as a young bride and the thousands of bowls of soup that she has since lovingly served greatly appeals to me.
What gifts do we give now? Countless plastic items to newborns. Technology to graduates. Trendy kitchen gadgets to newlyweds. I want to bring back the tradition of giving gifts that are meant to not only last throughout the lifetime of the recipient, but will become treasured heirlooms for the next generation. The items we leave behind when we are gone tell our story…whether it is my grandmother’s watch, Paul Revere’s Sons of Liberty bowl, or the Mildenhall Treasure…and they are cherished connections to the past for the current generation.
That’s why I want to bring silver back.