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We've become obsessed with material things

OK, I'll admit it. When my husband and I registered for our wedding gifts, there were a couple of impractical cooking items that made the list. I fell prey to the vision that, as a young bride, I would use those gadgets every day in my pursuit of culinary perfection.

Almost nine years later, I confess that the couple of items that I thought would make my kitchen experience complete sit in the back of the cupboard way up above my refrigerator.

But I know that I am not the only person who, becoming starry-eyed about her impending domestic life, fired the scanner at a couple of items that would eventually end up stuffed away in the attic crawl space. Most young couples beginning their lives together are bringing nothing more to the marriage than the pots and pans they used in college. So, when being faced with the prospect of owning some nice things that aren't scorched and dented, it's not all that surprising that some of us go a little bit crazy and sign on for ice cream makers that will likely never make any rocky road.

However, it seems like more and more couples have gone above and beyond the occasional impractical gift. It never ceases to amaze me when I see couples who cross that line and become total "gift piggies."

These are the people who, with an ugly sense of entitlement, register at multiple high-end stores for more household items than any one family could possibly use. They register for gifts that are so expensive, the average wedding guest finds herself being priced out of the list and has to consider approaching her bank for a loan.

What is even greedier is when these gift piggies are not starting their households from scratch. Many of these couples are coming out of previous marriages, and I'm not talking about the people who lost many belongings to divorce.

I'm talking about the people who feel no compunction about signing up for a whole new set of items, despite the fact that they have no intention of getting rid of the beautiful sets of china, crystal and linens they already own. Naturally, the greed also asserts itself in the actual wedding -- the bigger and more outlandish the celebration, the better.

I suppose that you could say, "Don't go to their wedding if you don't approve of their behavior." It's not that simple. The rampant pigginess going on at weddings is symptomatic of a bigger societal problem.

We've become incredibly self-centered and consumed with acquisition. The very idea of what a wedding is supposed to be about has gotten lost in a tidal wave of "gimmes." I'm not saying that people should no longer register for gifts, but since when did the focus of marriage become the Waterford china and All-Clad cookware?

And from that day forward, it doesn't stop. We push ourselves to get as much as we can, no matter the cost, even if it means that we step on the very people who should mean more to us than the flashier car or the bigger house.

We waste our days worried about the image that we project and what other people have that we don't. Soon enough, those days morph into years that have been spent chasing some sort of materialistic ideal that will never be satiated.

At the end of our lives, what is it that we want to be proud of -- the relationships that we have cultivated, or the collection of stuff that we have acquired, for better or for worse?

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