Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Thursday 25 April |
The Feast of Saint Mark
Aleteia logo
Voices & Views
separateurCreated with Sketch.

My friends are getting married, and I’m giving them a goat


Kseniya Ivanova | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 06/25/17

As a wedding guest, what sort of meaningful gift can you get for people who already have so much?

Where I live in New York, it is almost unthinkable for a wedding guest to give the newlywed couple a gift that is not money. Priests and nuns are allowed to give blessings or religious items for the home, but for the rest of us, a simple check will do, please and thank you, particularly one large enough to cover the cost of one’s plate at the reception. Typically that can mean you are writing a check for somewhere between $100 and $250.

Of course, people are not ridiculous — couples know that some friends or family are in school or struggling; they do understand if all one can manage is a pretty card. But for the healthy who are reasonably employed? Yeah, double that gift if you’re bringing your plus-one. Ka-ching!

It gets expensive, especially when you’re at the age where all of your friends are finally buying rings and memorizing vows. This is where I am, right now, and yes, I’ll be writing checks for my friends, and leaving them in nicely-decorated boxes or cages so the bride doesn’t have to lug around a satin bag full of money all night (I did mention I live in New York, right?). But I’m going to be including something else in their gift: a baby goat.

Let me explain. When my brother and his wife were marrying, I was just out of college, with a kitchen job that paid peanuts per hour. Because they are level-headed people — and because my brother has blessed himself with a wife who is unbelievably shrewd about getting the most bang for the buck — I could manage to cover my plate, and of course wanted to, but I also wanted to give them something more meaningful and memorable than a crisp $100 bill.

It was about that time when I received a flier in the mail from Food For the Poor, a Christian organization that provides food, medicine, shelter and other services to impoverished people in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was actually a gift catalog, and as I looked through it I couldn’t resist.

I bought a goat for my brother and sister-in-law for their wedding.

In truth, what I’d done was donated $90 to buy a goat for an impoverished family, in their name, in honor of their marriage.

And they loved it.

Why a goat? Well, to tell the truth, I couldn’t afford a donkey or a water pump, but my $100 budget (which also allowed me to purchase a fruit tree) gave a source of milk and cheese and nutrition to a poor family somewhere, while honoring a couple who both work for non-profits and are always looking out for others. My sister-in-law’s whole life is about service to others, so I knew they’d take it in a right spirit, and they did.

More than this, it spread the joy of their new union beyond just their family and friends, and it helped begin their marriage on a charitable note: giving a goat to others reflects the notion that marriage calls forth a selflessness from a couple — one that both parties must adopt as they cease to be individuals and become one flesh.

Also, what’s cuter than a baby goat?

This year three of my friends are getting married. I’ll do my best to cover my plate. But they’re getting goats, too.

Food for the Poor-fair use

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.