Before marrying Jrex, I used to feel pressured by special events. I know for many people, finding the perfect gift is fun, but for me, it was usually a bit stressful with random times of enjoyment. I'm not a big gift giver. I love receiving them, but would much rather go and have an adventure with someone than receive a gift. Frankly, our apartment is full and we don't really need much.
Koreans, pragmatic and smart people, often skip the gifts for special occasions (it's for the ordinary event of seeing each other that the gifts some pouring forth). For our wedding, his parents chartered a bus and brought up 40 of their friends for the ceremony. Apparently, the Korean-filled bus spent the trip laughing, singing Korean hymns and folk songs and having a great time. They also financed our entire reception. If our Caucasian friends gave us money, it was usually $25. The Korean crowd started at $50 and went up (and this was 11 years ago). We kept a careful list of who gave us how much; that way his parents could give them the same amount when it was time for the friend's child to get married.
For 12 weeks this spring we endured the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" materials with another couple. Ramsey has lots of practical advice, but it's mingled with showmanship and some fuzzy logic. Rather than participate in the big group class run by Smart Girl and her husband, we went through the material with another couple from our church, Bookworm and Hawaiian Girl. They are engaged to be married this summer, and today was her bridal shower. During the financial course, we had lots of discussions about white people vs Asians in terms of gift giving. Hawaiian Girl is ethnically Chinese, Bookworm is Caucasian. He was concerned by the growing guest list, knowing the budget and freaking out about having to figure out a way to pay for it. We explained the Asian way and told him not to worry.
At the shower today, I gave her a card with a pineapple on the front and a check inside. The text read, "Given all our discussions this spring, this seemed like the most appropriate, 'cross-cultural' gift I could give you." She cracked up when she read the card and crowed, "Money!" Most of the other guests were white and had given her gifts, they looked a little puzzled by the inside joke. One of them, another Caucasian woman married to a Korean guy, came over after the gift opening. "Before your marriage, did you ever give cash?" I laughed, "No! But it definitely simplifies life." She grinned her agreement, "I thought about just doing money."