Friday, August 14, 2009


So, my wonderful Bridal Brigade threw me a wedding shower on Sunday. It was so nice to be the center of attention. Right now it feels like this wedding is about everyone but me. My friend Mark tried to cheer me up by reminding me that your wedding is the one day when it's all about you. I laughed a tired laugh of derision. If it were all about me it would have happened in a courthouse 3 months ago or a small ceremony in my parents' backyard. I think big events must only be for first-time brides. This wedding is a day that's all about Jacob's family, from the scale of the event to the way I am struggling to treat his parents to the $800 impersonal rabbi. I'm not complaining. It's important to Jacob and I chose all of it because I want our marriage to start off on the good foot of compromise and because I know the relationship between he and I will be better for the next 40 or 50 years if his family feels included, loved and wanted. It's a worthwhile thing to sacrifice for.

Plus, I know it will be a rocking party. We've got a great band with a phenomenal band leader. If I want, I can dance the whole time and not talk to anyone. I've planned lots of quiet into my morning. My dress will be gorgeous and fun to wear. The ceremony will be full of God and I'm sure the hugeness of what Jacob and I are doing will move me in meaningful ways. I will be happy.

But the shower was especially lovely.
It was truly moving that so many women from so many different aspects of my life came together and gamely threw themselves into the process of entertaining themselves with each other, asking, "So, how do you know Rebecca?" I hate being at parties where I only know one or two people, so this party was especially appreciated since this was a party where all the attendants had the potential to feel on the fringe but came anyway.

I felt loved.

I felt celebrated.

It was held at my mom's house since she has enough room. However, they don't have air conditioning and this past weekend was the hottest so far this summer. Lots of sweaty faces and glasses of homemade limeade. I went early just to hang out with my mom and to help her with any last set-up things. Once other folks started arriving, she disappeared and read her book for most of the time. Perfect since I knew that made her happy.

And did they start arriving!

With armloads of casserole dishes and tupperware containers. With pineapples and dip. With balloons and flowers. With presents.

I was a little unnerved as I opened presents since at most showers, that's sort of a side activity while the women kibbitz. But my ladies were quiet and all of them watched me. So, I told stories. No need to rush this thing. I told stories about the givers. I told stories about the presents and why I had chosen them. I told the story about my grandma offering up a bottle of astroglide as hand-sanitizer at a picnic. It had been left on her bathroom sink by one of my cousin's and she mis-used it unknowingly for weeks before the picnic.

I asked my friend Susan why they were all so intent. She reminded me that I didn't have a traditional registry. I'm using and have simply listed the types of things we would like rather than specific products. We also emphasize heavily that folks should feel free to shop in their own cabinets and at thrift stores. Susan pointed out that at a normal shower, everyone has seen all of the gifts before on the store registry. At this one, each was a surprise. Also, Susan was kind enough to tell me that I was interesting and had interesting friends so the gifts had even more potential to be interesting.

And they were, in fact, interesting. One woman bought us a teapot and serving dishes from a cooperative of women in Africa and wrapped it in boxes she hunted up from all over her house. My brother's girlfriend found us a great serving tray. I got a gift-certificate to a fair-trade bead store. I got yoga props and a used sensual yoga book. The giver told the story of realizing too that maybe we would be grossed out more than appreciative of her desire to fulfill our wishes not to contribute to our world's hunger for more new things. We all laughed and I assured her that I love it. I got an assortment of spices from the local freshly-ground spice store including cinnamon that my friend's two toddlers chose by seriously smelling all of the offerings. My sister-in-law gave me a water-boiler that we want because it uses so much less energy than boiling on the stove or in the microwave. My other sister-in-law brought a fun game that involved competitively cataloguing the items in our purses. My 4th grade Sunday school teacher and now-friend gave me a 1976 cookbook published by the ladies in the church who watched me grow up. I was especially moved by my friend Carrie's present from Crate and Barrel. For my first wedding, she had made special effort to track down bowls we had registered for but that had gone out of stock. My ex-husband got those in the divorce and I've always felt bad about her wasted effort. But she didn't hold it against me went back to Crate and Barrel for a beautiful glass bowl for this wedding. Another friend gave me one of her family heirlooms that I've known the story of since high school. Her family in Germany had sent a desperate letter to "Daniel Pinkham, Cicero, America" during WWII begging for the scraps from their tables. The family sent weekly shipments and received lovely things in return because the Germans didn't want to accept charity. Elena gave me one of the lovely little demitasse cups. A friend who couldn't make it sent a bowl made by an artist local to their family's hosue in Michigan. Add to these stories lingerie, potluck paraphenalia, massage oils and gift certificates to IKEA and I feel completely showered with the love that the intimacy of sharing experiences creates.

We didn't get around to making our quilt squares but seeing the fabric I had brought and the examples up-close and in person spurred a lot of folks to say they were getting started. Then, those of us that could stay cleaned up and replaced all the cold bottles of Mexican coke that we had drunk so my mom never even knew we were there.

Thank you, ladies. Planning a big event is totally worth it if I get to swim in the smaller eddies of gatherings like this.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the upcoming marriage, sweetheart! So very happy for you!

And this cracked me up:

I told the story about my grandma offering up a bottle of astroglide as hand-sanitizer at a picnic. It had been left on her bathroom sink by one of my cousin's and she mis-used it unknowingly for weeks before the picnic.


PrincessMax said...

It's wonderful to read your words, Baraka. I'm always glad to know you stop by.

Of course, by highlighted my words, I notice the egregious mis-used apostrophe. Not nearly as funny as mis-used lubricant.

In the words of my aunt, "That's not hand sanitizer, Mom. That's for sex!"

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I know the feeling you describe in your first paragraph--I had all this centre of attention anxiety early on in wedding planning but with all the conflicting demands and egos and politics, eventually I did feel like "hey, I want at least a LITTLE attention!" The day of, I totally "I'm the bride"-ed my parents every time they'd demand something.

But that's an aside. Your shower sounds like it was wonderful. It is amazing how touching and not obnoxiously consumeristic gift giving experiences can be. It sounds like you've got an awesome community around you.