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Guest opinion: It’s about so much more


By Joey Beech | Executive director, Ankeny Economic Development Corp.

I’ve never been much for bridal showers. They always felt too “girly” for me. Too much pink, ribbon and bows for my taste. My discomfort with these types of events is likely due to my inferiority complex in the domestic arena. Showers are the occasions where all the domestic divas shine, and I look and feel out of place. The divas arrive right on time with their perfectly wrapped gifts and pretty dresses. They have perfectly baked treats in hand that they “just whipped up.”

To me, it is my worst nightmare.

I felt out of place at my own wedding shower over 28 year ago. My mother-in-law was so good to “throw me one,” in the basement of her small-town church. At the time, I could not understand why all these women who I had never met would take their time to come to a shower for me. They brought all these lovely gifts for me and I sat there doing my best not to embarrass myself or my mother-in-law. My husband (fiancé at the time) explained they were there to support his mother just as she supported all of them when their family had a special occasion. I smiled, got through it, and chalked it up to an old-school tradition.

I’ve now reached the age where nieces and nephews are getting married and having babies. And, yes, that awkward feeling comes back as I walk into the diva den of baked goods, bows and decorations. Now, my coping skill of choice for such occasions is to find the women who look the busiest and ask how I can help. I claim no abilities, but I can follow instructions and I’m not bad at pouring punch.

Recently, as I was prepping for a bridal shower for the next generation, I gave this old tradition new thought. It finally dawned on me that it wasn’t about the decorations, gifts or baked goods at all. I had one of those moments of clarity when I suddenly “got it.” It wasn’t the cute Oprah Winfrey aha. It was more like the Grinch in the Dr. Seuss story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It’s the one where the Who people down in Whoville sing and celebrate Christmas despite not having any decorations, food or gifts. It’s where the Grinch suddenly figures out that the holiday isn’t about the gifts, decorations or feast. It’s about celebrating and being with each other.

I’m embarrassed to confess I finally realized showers aren’t about perfectly wrapped gifts and baked goods at all. A shower is about showing up and supporting the woman about to get married or give birth. It’s about showing her that the trials she will face as a wife or mother are temporary and other women are around to support her and help along the way. It is to show the guest of honor there is a group of women who care about her and her future success. And, perhaps most importantly, it is to welcome her into the family and community.

I now see showers are not only an important tradition worth carrying forward, but we should also look for new ways to show the spirit of support and encouragement. I think it would do us all good to find ways to encourage and support other women in all areas of our lives. I believe good things will happen if we show our support to the women around us in both our personal and professional lives. Just imagine how much better we’d all feel if we stopped judging each other’s outfits, shared a few more smiles and said “Way to go, girl” more often.

For me, the den of the domestic divas is not where I shine. That’s OK. I’ll still show up and show my support. I may be late and trying to look natural while smiling and pouring punch, but I’ll be there.

Joey Beech is the executive director of Ankeny Economic Development Corp., the author of “A Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance” and a speaker on financial literacy.

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