Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why I Dislike Showers

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.


Anonymous said...

I have seen this strategy employed at showers, and it is brilliant. If only a similar strategy could be utilized for the silly games and fruity punch.

Social Grace said...

Thanks, anonymous! I agree w/ you on the games an punch. I'll have a think on strategy and post some ideas soon.

A little bit about me... said...

I love showers and always open invitations with joy and excitement. I love helping to celebrate the upcoming nuptials or impending parenthood of friends and family. It brings us closer together. And the tradition of opening gifts and playing silly games, I think it is a chance to have a bit of fun and even laugh at yourself. Why take it all so seriously? I have also attended showers without games and without the opening of presents. No laughter, no bonding and unfortunately, very boring. Does this mean I have no class?

Social Grace said...

Thanks for your comment! My position generally is between consenting adults, as long as no one gets hurt, then it's ok. So enjoy the showers--different strokes for different folks, that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.

Social Grace said...

Another "Anonymous" sent this via email:
I love the post but I don't agree with all of it. The post is assuming the Grace attends the shower. I think she should but I know a "Grace" or two that send a gift and bail. From what I know about etiquette that is not what a true Grace should do. Graces go and support their family and friends even if they don't like the activity.

Now let's say the Grace can and does go...I don't think a Grace should overtake a shower the way you suggest. I think many brides like the boring gift opening tradition. The assembly line is okay if the host and bride are on board. If Great Aunt Tootsie wants to see a tea cup please will another minute kill you? It may be her last shower. I know you are over the gift thing, but she may not be happy about it.

Social Grace said...

Yes, anonymous, you certainly make a good point. Showers just may be my "Grace Achilles Heel!" Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

In the current state of our world, any cause to celebrate, be it a shower, picnic or other happy event.......I say "do it." Step out of the hustle bustle and relax. True gift giving and the art of sharing in the happiest of friendships is rare. Does the food really matter? I agree with "A little bit about me.." Don't take it all too seriously. Life and real friendships are way too short.

Anonymous said...

What about ditching the whole "Shower" idea and moving to a "Couples Shower" which is actually a cocktail party. You can the games and you do what I call - the Price Is Right Demo with all incoming gifts? I find this a good alternative that gets everyone in the party/celebrating mood without the drag of an actual shower.

Social Grace said...

Anonymous 2: I like the couples shower idea; actually threw one for my sister's wedding shower and it was great fun.

Anonymous 3: You are right that it is nice to step out of the hustle and bustle to celebrate with friends--but people have different ideas of celebration, good food and fun. Just as some love jello salad, sherbet punch and silly hats made of wrapping paper, others enjoy chicken salad, or bowling, or Scrabble or opera. With all the busyness of life, free time can be scarce, so sometimes we don't want to use that rare commodity on something that we don't enjoy. (And yes, I recognize that that is a bit selfish.) Thanks for your very valid comment!