The origin of the Bridal Shower comes from the Victorian Era when gifts were placed in a parasol to "shower" the bride-to-be with small items for her home. Baby showers, however, are a newer tradition to help an expectant couple prepare for their new arrival. Cultures around the world have countles variations on how to host a shower be it baby or bridal...but today I feel a bit nostalgic. Here at PCC, I see showers almost every single weekend. The elaborate themes, decorations, games and gifts make me yearn for a simpler day.
Ahhh...the lace parasol. The eternal symbol of showering someone with love. I can remember growing up we hosted bridal and baby showers in our homes. The neighborhood and family came together to make sandwiches, salads, and even a fancy cake. The focal point of the whole celebration was the decorative parasol that was filled with petals to shower the guest of honor with. We painstakingly attached tissue paper to hold the petals in the parasol until just the right moment when a strategic pull of a ribbon would create a waterfall of color and joy. It solicited 'ooohs and aaahs' from the gathering of ladies and even sometimes resulted in a round of applause. What a moment. A time that a community celebrates a woman for the rite of passage she is about to go through. As a young girl I dreamed of the time that those multicolored paper petals would float down on me!
Times changed. Communities changed. The age of information has allowed us access to so much, but has also blocked us from the interpersonal connections that are so important around these big life events. Invitations are emailed, or printed online...they aren't hand written or even hand delivered. "A card? In the mail? It's not my birthday!!" I can just hear it...when did pen and paper thoughtfully composed to invite someone to a special event become so rare?
Remember finger sandwiches? The fanciest of all the sandwiches. Serving finger sandwiches with no crust felt like we were having tea with the Queen. In reality, a platter of finger sandwiches was an economical way to feed a crowd. My grandmother would tell me stories of how she made the chicken salad sandwiches for her own wedding during the depression. And it was special....like 'no-crust' kind of special.
The gifts...the colorful, wonderful and fancy gifts! Not like a $300 blender kind of fancy...like here are your christmas cookie cutters and my famous recipe kind of fancy. World Bride Magazine accounts that the origin of the bridal shower gift was in lieu of a dowry. Useful household items have been traditionally given, but nowadays couples can register for everything from a blender to their honeymoon to a fund for a mortgage! Doesn't anyone need a wooden spoon anymore? Thoughtful and meaningful gifts meant to warm a home or welcome a new baby are what I miss.
Don't get me wrong, a registry has its place and I do appreciate some guidance when it comes to what I should get my cousin or work friend for their upcoming wedding. What I miss are the homemade treasures that become heirlooms. The cross-stitched sampler (a classic here in New England), a lace hanky to carry on your wedding day, or a hand knit baby blanket. A gift from the heart (and hands) of someone you love is what a shower should be about.
A community gathering together to usher a woman into the next phase of her life is a unique and significant tradition that commercialism has led us to forget. My wish for everyone being 'showered' in the near future is a beautiful mix of old and new. I wish for the balanced mix of Kitchenaid and recipe cards. Most of all, I wish for the feeling of support and love that I remember growing up on parasols and finger sandwiches.