Ainsley's kindergarten class is honoring the birth of Jesus in the traditional, old-fashioned way today; they're having a baby shower for the virgin mother.
When the letter came home detailing the event, I was a little cynical. But then I read that all the gifts brought by the children will go to a local charity helping impoverished mothers-to-be, so I filled a gift bag with some baby essentials and sent Ainsley on with it this morning. She was really excited about it, and she is in love with the soft, green blanket I chose. She thinks "baby Jesus" will love being wrapped in it. Since she's into the spirit of the whole thing, I've had a hard time being completely snarky.
But I wouldn't be me if I didn't have some kind of commentary, now would I?
I am not a big fan of showers in general. Oh, the gifts are wonderful. Who doesn't like buying and receiving itty bitty onesies, fuzzy blankies, and sleepers? And I love getting together with the girlfriends. But I hate hate HATE having people watch me open gifts. I never know what to say. Especially with the baby gifts; it's a little embarrassing to open, say, a breast pump, in front of people you may or may not have beyond a passing acquaintance with. What do you say there? "Thanks so much for selecting this model; I hear it doesn't yank your nipples uncomfortably like some of those cheaper ones do!" Yeah, I prefer not to have to think or talk about such things in mixed company.
And then there's the cattiness. No matter how much her friends love the mother- or bride-to-be, there will be a lot of gossip and cutting-down around the salami rolls and champagne punch. The expectant mother will be criticized for either looking too fat or not looking pregnant enough, and everything from her nursery paint to the crib set to her method of birthing and plans for feeding the baby will be scrutinized and discussed. It's just what happens in a room full of women. Which is why I was thrilled when my good friend threw me a couple's baby shower; having men in the house toned some of that down a little.
So all morning I've been thinking about what a shower for Mary would have looked like.
A group of ladies are standing around a bowl of goats-milk sherbet punch, waiting for the guest of honor to arrive.
"I can't believe they haven't left for Joseph's home town yet. She's getting really big."
"I know! If they wait too much longer, she'll give birth somewhere in the middle of the desert on the way out there."
"And I'll bet you 20 ducats that Joseph hasn't send word out to make reservations at an inn yet."
"And you know how fast those inns fill up in Bethlehem."
"I can just see her having to have the baby in a barn or something."
"Yeah, and putting it to sleep in a trough!"
"Well, I died the wool pink for the blanket I made her, but I hear she just knows she's having a boy."
"Oh, how could anyone know for sure what they're having? Unless she has a direct line to God or something."
"My great-great-great grandmother swore up and down she was carrying triplets but it just turned out that Goliath was a really big baby."
"You know, Mary is awfully big for how far along she says she is. Does anybody else find the math a little suspicious?"
"I am so glad someone else thought that! Surely she wasn't pregnant before she married Joseph..."
"Shhh, here she comes!"
Enter Mary. Everyone runs to her to hug her.
"Why, Mary, you're absolutely glowing! I'd almost think you were carrying the Messiah himself!"
Mary quickly changes the subject.
"So, I really hope one of you got me a cushion. It's going to be a long trip on that donkey!"
Of course, Ainsley's baby shower for Mary and Joseph will be very low on cattiness and high on sweetness. I hope that she learns all about Jesus's birth and the manger and the wise men and all that good stuff. She's got plenty of time to learn about the potential horridness of baby showers.
Here's hoping she doesn't need to learn that lesson for a looooong time.