Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slight chance of showers

A good friend was tweeting about a bridal shower the other day, and I started thinking about all the showers (bridal and baby) that I've attended over the years. She mentioned how great it was to see one of her best friends get so happy, and that made the shower worth the trouble.

Just look at all the gifts smiles.
That's a lovely sentiment; my friend is a lovely lady. My take is slightly different (and, admittedly, skewed by experience and, quite frankly, age). I started thinking about the various circumstances under which we are invited to showers...and when, in my opinion, it feels right to just say no.

First things first - we need to set aside false expectations. My ex used to complain mention that he felt I was invited to showers solely to bring a gift. Well, yeah - that's why everyone is invited to a shower. Yeah, sure, there's a sentimental part to the whole thing - celebrate a milestone, share happiness, blah, blah, blah.... Thing is - if celebrating and sharing was the main goal - you'd just throw a party. Call it a shower - and suddenly the stuff becomes the point.

Once you've accepted this reality, it gets a lot easier to abandon that whole, "But I have to go! She's my best friend's cousin's sister's boyfriend's aunt...I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings!" attitude. You won't - believe me. She does not care to share her happy milestone with you any more than you care to spend your afternoon peering avoiding awkward questions while eating dry cake and cheese and crackers.

The truth is, there are going to be plenty of showers where you really do care about the person celebrating. You want to see her smile, and let her know you're happy for her. The problem is, these events are often so riddled with politics and drama that any actual happy celebrating is kept to a minimum. Drama and politics interrupting my otherwise stress-free Sunday? No, thank you.

I will go to a shower (bridal or baby) if....

- The other guests are people I don't know, who won't be interested in me or why I'm divorced, still single and don't have children.*
- It's a shower my grandmother would have attended and I'm worried about guilt being sent down from the hereafter.
- The venue is a restaurant with excellent food.
- The venue is a home I've been dying to check out in person.
- There will be a chance to observe other people's drama or witness a potential hot-mess-meltdown.
- I've been assured there will be no stupid shower games.
- I know for a fact that the hostess(es) are on their game and won't let the festivities carry on for too long.
- I know that this particular bride-to-be will be happy to see me.

*This is not an issue for someone who is married or engaged, and if so, either has children, is pregnant or is planning to start trying soon. Under these circumstances, a person is basically judgment proof, and therefore in the clear.

Oh dear, something's come up....
I send regrets (and a gift) if...

- The other guests are family or friends who will ask me fun questions like, "Is there any chance you and X will get back together?" or "How on earth do you manage all by yourself?" Pass.
- I get a hint that the guest list is out of control, and therefore present-opening will take all day.
- I know the hostess(es) will plan a lot of cheesy games that will make my eye twitch.
- I dislike the venue, or it's what I consider to be too long a drive.
- I know that this particular bride-to-be couldn't care less if I'm there; and may, in fact, not even recognize me.
- I have something better to do.

Note that there is a very exclusive (read: short) list of people for whom the regrets rules don't apply. I'm lucky enough to have a few people in my life who would do anything for me - and for them, I'd brave even the most uncomfortable afternoon.

For everyone else - the check carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped online-registry gift is in the mail.


  1. Don't you worry about any of my "showers" being awful. I'll leave if they are and would encourage my guests to follow suit if the cheesy games come out.

  2. Even if they did, you fall into the "regrets don't apply" category. :)

  3. I love this post Sue! glad I could help :) My favorite reason to go to a shower that you listed - "There will be a chance to observe other people's drama or witness a potential hot-mess-meltdown!" haha love it! :)