My mother is one of four siblings, but her closest relationship was with two female cousins who lived with her uncle, aunt and grandmother. Mom looked more like her Aunt Rose than her cousins did and she clung to this part of her family, taking me and my brother to visit them each year when we were little.
As a result, I grew up with the next generation of this family: an oldest daughter, a son my brother's age and another daughter ten months younger than me. It was my "youngest" cousin who arranged the invites — having me and my daughter to her child's bridal shower in late June.
Bridal showers, no matter who hosts and who attends are a little strange. The whole point is to "shower gifts" on the bride and the traditions have changed over time. There was no umbrella or wishing well to place kitchen gadgets, but a hashtag to define the bride and groom. There was an informal white dress for the honoree and a vague dress code for the guests. Although this was my daughter's first shower, she brought me through the new traditions while I sorted out and explained our family tree. Then we settled in for an afternoon with lots of estrogen and white balloons.
In short, the agenda centers on presents: stacking them on a big table, opening them up one at a time so the attendees can "ooh" and "ahh" and acknowledging how useful that pasta bowl or hand mixer really is. I was thoroughly confused by the request to wrap everything in clear cellophane, considering the bride had to open cartons and cards below the wrapping anyway.
"We are just starting to open gifts," I text my son and husband somewhere around the second hour of the event.
"What's to open if everything is wrapped in clear?" My son texts back.
"Apparently only 30 percent got the memo," texts my daughter discretely from the party room.
So the cookbooks, "Mrs." robes and salt/pepper shakers kept coming.
In fairness, this was a very nice event with thoughtful touches and some killer eggplant parmigiana. We won M&Ms, got s’mores as party favors and ate Ferrero Roche chocolate. But my favorite moment was when my daughter took two mini servings of my Great Aunt Rose's noodle pudding for the first time and loved every bite. Aunt Rose didn't live to see this day, but her presence was felt among those tiny sweet portions that flanked the bagels, lox and cream cheese.
A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, LIU Post and SUNY Old Westbury.