At a recent wedding shower, while watching the bride-to-be open a tissue-stuffed box filled with her brightly-patterned dishes, I considered that she already has plates in her cupboard. I was at her apartment recently for dinner and her plates were just fine. Yet here are lots of new ones.
She’s 34 and has lived on her own for quite some time, so owns many of the standard items she’s now receiving. When she really needed the gift shower was after her college graduation as she moved into an apartment. Instead, she, like me, got pans from her mother’s cupboard (her mom’s wedding gifts, in fact), hand-me-down cooking utensils and old, chipped serving platters.
This wedding shower ritual hasn’t kept pace with changes in our culture. It used to be that a young man and woman lived with their parents until just before marrying. As they prepared to set up house, the community gathered together and “showered” them with gifts for their new home–dishes, pans, knives, towels, sheets, accessories. What a great idea!
Today men and women venture out into the world on their own. The traditional high school graduation gifts—like irons, luggage, popcorn poppers and typewriters (in my day, anyway) or computers—just don’t cut it when you need utensils to eat with.
I remember using birthday and Christmas gift wish-lists as an excuse for requesting the items I needed. During the four years shortly after college, I asked for a food processor for Christmas, dishes for my birthday, flatware for the next Christmas, then Calphalon pans, a mixer, mixing bowls, a colander, and a cake platter. It took a few years, but I eventually had a stocked kitchen.
Before I married at at 35, dear friends hosted showers in my honor and I was grateful. I just wonder if we might begin changing our practices. It used to be taboo to register for baby gifts, but now I see “Registered At” with the stores listed on baby shower invitations all the time. So why not ask our single friends to register at Target or their favorite department store for things they want and need, and host a shower in their honor?
My sister is single and lamented that her bath towels are more than ten years old and paper thin. She longs for the thirsty, Egyptian cotton wraps that Oprah promotes. She wouldn’t want a personal, “Round the Clock,” “Honey-Do” or “Men Are from Mars/Women Are from Venus” themed event. A co-ed “everything” party could be loads of fun. She thinks that then, should she ever marry in the future, she’ll just need to register for furniture and vacations. Besides, she’s hoping she might meet her future husband at her own shower. Now that would be shaking our culture up a bit.