Yesterday's question got me thinking about showers. The truth is that no one really looks forward to attending a shower. The reaction to a shower invitation ranges from grim resignation to abject horror.
It's not the concept of feting a woman on the brink of marriage or motherhood that I find horrific--in fact, that is a lovely idea. Good food and drink, convivial company, and generous gifts honoring a loved one on an important occasion--that's what Graces do. I just strenuously object to the format.
This stems not from religious beliefs, nor superstition, nor family tradition, merely the abhorrence of an event dedicated solely to opening gifts and showcasing them to everyone in attendance.
This gift ritual defies every facet of Grace--it requires guests to sit idle and bored, intermittently feign interest and elation at a stock pot, mix master, or toaster, endure the not very subtle gift competition, and cease all interaction with their fellow hostages for the duration of this torture. (I swear I was "shushed" at a shower once when I recklessly attempted conversation while the the bride-to-be waved her new dishtowels overhead for all to see.) In addition, the potential for sherbet punch, crepe paper decorations, gelatin-laced food, ridiculous games, and endless gift commentary looms large. Not to mention the sacrificial Saturday or Sunday we are asked to give up like an Aztec virgin atop a volcano.
My sisters and I have crafted an assembly-line strategy that we employ at our family's showers. It works well to reduce the hostage time (i.e. gift opening and display) to a minimum. We station ourselves, guerilla-troop style, around the guest of honor. We procure a pair of scissors to avoid fussing with all of those ribbons and paper, (thus preserving our manicures) paper and pen, and we move fast. One of us cuts and removes some of the wrapping, and passes the gift to the bride,who removes the gift from the box and holds it up; the second gift handler moves in quickly, secures the item, and puts it back in the box. This can be a tricky job and must be given to someone with fast hands and fortitude--they prevent passing the item around the room even if persnickety aunts demand it. The third commando catalogs each item with the name of the giver. We have gotten through 30 gifts in 10 minutes with this method.
It is not for the faint-hearted, and there could be some flak from the devotees of the old ways, but progress comes at a price.