Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just trying to blend in

I face cultural clashes on a daily basis. I'm the product of several different cultures--all vastly different from the other and most days I just do my best to blend in. Then, just when I think I've got the chameleon thing going, I'm thrown on to a branch of a different color and someone calls me out.

I went to a baby shower today. Most would find that innocent enough--I was terrified. For a couple of reasons. One--though I knew the mom-to-be (I wasn't just crashing a stranger's party!) I knew I would know very few of the other guests--and there were a lot of them! I don't do well in social functions. I don't chit-chat very well and I always wind up saying the wrong thing and I get that look--that look of "Oh, you're not from around here, are you?". Today, however, I had the ultimate screen--a baby. The wee Princess gave me the excuse to simply sit and she was a great conversation starter. Though most of the conversations she started ended up with whomever going on and on about either their own child or their grandchild. Fine. I'm good with smiling and nodding.

The second reason I was terrified is that the baby shower seems to be the epitome of American culture. I don't know how to blend in with that form of excessive consumerism. It's not that I'm against the institution of the showers...we benefited from two of the baby ones (more on that later). I simply don't understand the entire industry built around them. The gift recipient registers at a store, or several stores, for items she wishes for--a wish list with some pretty pricey items. One of my cousin's wedding registry was for every single thing in their house--including appliances! And again, it's not that I didn't want to give this person things she wanted, it's just that I find registries overwhelming and I dislike being told what to do. Seeing as this is a first time mom I picked out a few items that I felt I couldn't have lived without. Sadly, I was the only one who gave books (Good Night Moon and The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boyndon) and only one of two who gave diapers.

Like I said, we actually did have a baby shower for each baby. Neither was traditional and I enjoyed both immensely! For the first, my best friend Amy (my ambassador of American culture) wanted to organize it for me. I requested low key, no stress. We ended up having afternoon tea at The Painted Lady with just a handful of very dear friends. Yes, there were gifts, but it was neither the highlight nor the focus. I was able to spend an afternoon with friends I hadn't been able to see in a while. For the second, one of my co-workers really wanted to throw a shower and make it a party. She opened up her house and we had a party. Once again, there were gifts, but they most certainly weren't the focus--keeping Little Man from breaking anything in that incredible house was the focus!

Back to this afternoon. Kyleigh also gave me the perfect graceful exit--"Yeah, she's done--I just need to get her home. But lovely shower, thanks for inviting me." Muah!

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