Here are 3 things that make me feel uncomfortable:
1. opening a gift in front of the gift-giver (What if I have to pretend to like my present? I hate to feign an excited shrill or ear-to-ear smile, but fine, I'll do it to protect a friend's feelings from being hurt.)
2. mixing one group of my friends with another (What if they don't get along, or if one person feels uncomfortable, left out, or bored?)
3. being the host of a party and only having enough time to do a quick "meet-and-greet" dance from table to table.
So a bridal shower? Not exactly up my alley. Especially since all of my friends and family would be trapped in a room, forced to engage in small talk over a drawn out process of opening gift-wrapped boxes, and participate in a 3-hour chorus of collective "Awww!'s".
The favors: 2 yummy flavors of tea in a pretty box
But here are a few lessons that I learned from the surprisingly lovely, funny, and tearful shower that my sister and my mom threw for me:
- Friends and family just want you to have a good time, even more so than they want themselves to be happy. So if there's anything you are "obligated" to do (whether we're talking your shower or your wedding) it's simply to eat cake and be merry!
- I am not responsible for making everyone feel happy and comfortable 100% of the time. I can do my best, but if someone is bored, or doesn't approve of my casual attitude, or doesn't like the menu, well then I guess we'll all just have to be grown-ups about it and make do. I'm not their mom and they are not children. So I have to stop pressuring myself to be the protector of everyone's feelings.
- There's always room within a long-standing tradition to add new, fun, and personalized elements. For example, opening gifts in front of everyone wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be because I did it MY way. First, I asked everyone to give me some marriage advice when they presented their gift. (And of course, one of the most traditional and conservative women in the room was the one who talked about the joys of make-up sex.) Then I said a little bit about why each gift-giver was a special person in my life and why I freakin' adore them. One of my favorite parts of the day was when my sister gave a little speech about our relationship. Then my mom had everyone hold hands and create a circle around me. She said a blessing, which was followed by some truly touching words from my future in-laws. It was a total cry-fest and I loved it.
- Sometimes it's important to let OTHERS have the pleasure of enjoying a particular tradition, even if it's not particularly meaningful to you. I would not advise you to go this route for all aspects of your wedding, but when the pay-off is much greater than the sacrifice, I say go for it. My sister has been planning my shower for YEARS - and it started long before I met Brian and got engaged. She loves coordinating colors, fancy brunch menus, charming restaurants, pretty flowers, and ladies sipping tea. I don't love those things but I LOVE my big sis, and if making her happy is as easy as letting her throw me a party, I'm game.
- Traditions are meaningful. Not to everyone, but to most. What allows a non-traditional girl like me to appreciate traditional celebrations? I make my own meaning. And how was my shower meaningful to ME? I saw it as generations of women who have gathered to support me as I make a tremendous life transition. They are women who in their own unique way have taught me how to love, and thus, have taught me how to be a good wife to my future husband. The gifts they bring are not merely for my house; they are meant to help me build a home. It doesn't get much more beautiful than that, folks.
So if there's anything I've learned from this experience it's that it takes a village raise a strong marriage. My village is the women who laughed, cried, and ate brunch and cake with me this past weekend. This bridal shower was NOT about being honored, feeling special and pretty, nor about getting gifts off of our registry. For me it was a kick-ass day of Thanksgiving, minus the turkey.