Not the rainy kind, the baby and wedding kind. I live in New York City and it’s 2017. Most of the wedding or baby showers I attend are for women or couples in their early 30s, there is catered food with vegan and vegetarian options, “good wine” and micro-brewed beer, and presents are not opened at the shower (as I’m told that’s not in good taste?!). You mingle, drink, nibble, there may be a cake, but not necessarily. There might not be any games (as I’m told that makes some people uncomfortable?). Sigh!
I miss the showers of my ’70s childhood. They were always held at someone’s home in “the country” which referred to the cedar-covered hills outside Austin off Bee Caves Rd. We were the city family so we’d drive out a two-lane road up and over and around hills until we finally turned off onto an unpaved white-rock road. The shower would be in the house, no men allowed. All the husbands would mill around outside, sit in lawn chairs, and smoke. They could come in the back door to the kitchen to get grab sandwiches or punch to take outside. The kids could run in and out as they pleased, but the girls usually sat alongside their mothers dreaming of the day they would be the center of attention.
Everyone dressed in their Saturday finest, not as fancy as Sunday, but slightly better than weekday wear. I wore a frilly dress, white lace socks, patent-leather Mary Janes, and satin ribbons in my hair. The men didn’t have to wear suits, but a shirt and tie was the norm. Depending on the time of year, most of the ties ended up coming off in the Texas heat. The guest of honor wore a large corsage.
Opening the presents was the most fun part. The packages were wrapped with fancy ribbons and large bows. If you were lucky, you were the young girl chosen to sit next to the bride or expectant mom and collect the bows. They were usually threaded onto a wire hanger to be saved as keepsakes. I’m not quite sure what was suppose to be done with those saved ribbons and bows, but I’m sure there was an unwritten rule about it. An adult sat on the other side and wrote down a description of the present and the giver. The recipient was expected to send a handwritten thank-you card within two weeks of the shower. Then the present would be passed around in it’s box so that each guest could oh and ah over it.
The food and drink was always the same for every shower. Butter mints, salted peanuts, punch, tea cakes, and a decorated sheet cake. The punch was served in a crystal punch bowl with matching crystal cups and a ladle, all of which the hostess had received at her own wedding shower. The punch itself was made by placing a frozen molded fruit-flavored jello ring into the bowl and pouring sprite over it. The tea cakes were made with white bread spread with tuna salad or pimento cheese, crusts cut off, and cut into fourths in the shape of triangles. The cake was cut after the presents were opened. The kids were assigned to take slices out to the men in the yard.
Lots of photos were taken, but some of the women in my family refused to let their faces be photographed. There are many, many photos of my Aunt Arlene and cousin Doris blocking their faces from the camera. The photos of showers from my childhood are gone from our family’s collection now, perhaps there are a few here and there, but I don’t have any. I do have a few photos from my own wedding shower from my first marriage. But it didn’t feel nearly as magical as it did when I was a child. I treasure those memories from a time before I knew what it really meant to be married and have a child. Those are happy, sunny, slightly foggy memories. The best kind.