From the little reading I have done on the subject, The American Baby Shower really came into its own during the Baby Boom. The "traditional" shower is women only (birth is women's work), playing assorted games and sitting around in a circle watching the pregnant woman open gifts. As far as "rites" go, this one is not a favorite of mine. Though this quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica is heartily amusing:
"Rites directed toward the newborn similarly symbolize or ensure health and well-being and, after some days, weeks, or months have passed, often include Baptism or other ritual acts that introduce the child to supernatural beings."
First of all, I picture a bunch of strangers, all pointing their Rites at a baby. Secondly, "introduc[ing] the child to supernatural beings?" Now THERE'S a party I want to attend. Thor, delicately drinking tea with his pinky up, saucer perched in his calloused hands. Anubis chewing away on the haunch of a young gazelle. Zeus, hitting on the underage cousin of the dad. Pan, humping the baptismal font. Yahweh, arguing with himself in a corner. It's all so Tom Robbins.
I recently attended a baby shower for a friend who is due this coming April. I went back and forth about whether or not I would go, and only decided when I was assured that there would be no "active games" and that there would be drinking (although when the words "Bloody Mary" were bandied about, I brought a six pack of Guinness because that's how I roll. Bloody Marys are the alcoholic cocktail of, well, I would say "The Devil," but he's at a baby shower at the moment. With a Bloody Mary.) I also decided that I should go because:
1. I should get over myself already, and
2. It wasn't about me.
(plus, I found that there was a suburban yarn store conveniently perched by the highway on the route home).
The socializing part was good: bacon and Guinness at 11:00 in the morning? Sign me up! And the only game consisted of little blue clothespins that were given to you upon entering and then taken away when you said the word "baby." I did not get a clothespin when I entered, and when someone asked me about it, the word "game" came up, and my heart started racing. Christine told me to say "baby" and it would all be over, and even THAT made me nervous, so I did not want to do it. A few seconds passed, I said "baby," and I was done.
(Yes, that is how weird I am about organized fun.)
Then came the gift giving. At this point, I would have been melting with mortification. No gift is worth suffering this kind of ignominy.
But it's probably just me.
While I did not have Finn three months early to get out of having a baby shower, one must always look for the bright side. The proverbial silver lining.
Those silver linings were: curtailing the baptism question, the circumcision discussion, and the baby shower debacle. Plus, I can always say "Well, he was a preemie," sighing and nodding my head knowingly, when people ask why I am doing something the way that I am doing it. Co-sleeping? He was a preemie. Staggered vaccination? He was a preemie. Exclusive breastfeeding, no solids until after 6 months adjusted? He was a preemie. Family day care? He was a preemie. No baby shower? I had no third trimester.
Really, I am just a wimp who hates confrontation and fears judgment, and if I can use the baby to shield myself from difficult situations, I'll do it as long as he has no idea.
Or until he lets me get more than five hours of uninterrupted sleep.
(No, he's not sleeping through the night; Yes, we had the same night last night that we had the night before; and Don't Worry, I will tell you when he sleeps for longer than five hours at a stretch.)