Baby showers usually have a prescribed schedule of events. There are generally no surprises. People arrive bearing appropriately wrapped (in nursery themed paper with ribbons or rattles attached) gifts, they mingle a bit, possibly have a glass of punch and a canape', may have a light lunch, the new mom - to - be opens gifts, holding them up or passing them around for all to see. They may pull a number for a door prize or a game may be played for which there is a prize for the winner. Opening of gifts continues until there are no more to open. Then there may be coffee and cake and good-byes. End of shower.
At the baby shower I attended on Sunday, a request was made to bring an unwrapped gift!!! The gifts were carefully displayed on a table. They were arranged at differing heights, so that all were visible in their wonderful nakedness. There was noshing and mingling and examination of gifts. The new mom was not relegated to a chair away from her guests. She was part of the noshing and mingling. There also was a not - so - light lunch.
In the background, guests are examining the baby gifts displayed on the table.
And the "game" for which there were no winners prizes was all laid out on another large table. It was more fun than any game I ever played at any other shower. There were piles of white blank onesies, tee shirts, and bibs, accompanied by containers of various colors of fabric markers. The guests personalized, with their own artwork, one or more of these for the new baby. It's a baby boy this couple are expecting so there were kites, trains, dress shirts with ties, turtles, and toy boats, etc. all hand painted and signed by the guests.
The gifts artfully displayed on the table - is what reminded me of a tradition that I had not remembered in years. Watching DOWNTON ABBEY, I saw wedding gifts arriving at the bride's home in the days preceding the wedding. These were then artfully displayed until the wedding was over.
Couples received gifts in advance of the wedding. It was considered gauche to bring a wrapped gift to the wedding. It was, however, socially acceptable to bring a card with a cash gift and usually there was a discretely placed container for this purpose. Today this tradition is almost entirely the card/cash with a not-so-discretely placed box in which to place them.
I had almost forgotten these wedding traditions until I noticed them on DOWNTON ABBEY. Gone are the days of receiving a place setting of silverware or a place setting of china or of crystal or a beautiful vase. People do not live with that formality any longer. Life is much more casual today. And of the "throw away" variety. It's stainless steel forks, everyday tableware from Target and plastic glasses. When the dishes get chipped or there is a nicer pattern of stainless steel flatware, it's back to Target to replace the old with a brand new (expendable) set.
It was not so with the china, crystal, silverware crowd of DOWNTON ABBEY. Oftentimes those possessions were passed down to the next generation (becoming heirlooms) - they lasted - they had substance - they had value.
Sometimes this makes me a little sad....................