On Saturday morning, I made egg-salad finger rolls, and then it was off to southern Maine to get ready for Andrea’s baby shower. Her mother, Debbie, picked me up, and we collected my daughter Shannon on the way. The car was loaded with food, decorations, and presents, and when we reached our destination—Andrea’s cousin’s house—we entered in a flurry to begin decorating and getting things ready. Somebody—one of Debbie’s cousins, I think—compared us to busy elves, and I’m happy to report that when the shower was over, the house looked much the way it did before we started.
The decorating theme of the shower was children’s literature, and with the help of my husband, Clif, we made a banner of book covers from some beloved children’s stories, including Toby Runs Away, which was one of Andrea’s favorites. And her father’s, too. Apparently he liked the brevity of the book.
I always love giving children’s books for presents at a baby shower, and even before the decorating theme had been decided on, I was planning to buy some children books for Andrea’s baby. We have a nifty little bookstore—Apple Valley Books—in Winthrop, and I just happen to have a talented cousin—Lynn Plourde—who has written many children’s books. Lynn also lives in Winthrop, which meant that I was able to buy two of her books—Wild Child and Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud—and have her sign them. I also picked up the beautiful Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Helen Berger. And at Clif’s urging, we included Dorothy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny in the bundle of books. How well Clif and I remember little fingers patting the bunny and trying on the ring. There are so many wonderful books for children, and what a treat to be able to buy some of them for Andrea’s baby.
Debbie, Shannon, and I, with the help of some of the other guests, provided the food, and I know I’m bragging a bit, but to borrow from my Yankee husband, the spread was pretty darned good. Along with the egg-salad finger rolls there were chicken-salad finger rolls, a Mexican dip, hummus, vegetables, crostini, white bean spread, veggies, and many other tasty tidbits. Especially delectable were Shari’s Berries chocolate-covered strawberries that Andrea’s mother-in-law brought. The strawberries were incredibly ripe and sweet, and how Shari’s Berries accomplishes this in November is a mystery to me. They are a bit pricey, but as a special gift for someone, those chocolate-covered strawberries would be just the thing. Unfortunately, I did not get a good close-up photo of the strawberries.
Thanks to modern technology, Andrea knows she is going to have a baby girl, and she and her husband, Ben, have chosen the lovely name Imogen for their child. Shakespeare buffs will recognize the name as the heroine in the play Cymbeline. “Wouldn’t it be cool,” I said to Andrea. “to have a bevy of daughters and name them after Shakespeare’s great heroines? Imogen, Juliet, Viola, and Rosalind, to name a few.” Andrea allowed as to how this would be very cool indeed but that perhaps she and Ben didn’t want to have that many children. Of course they don’t. Still, it’s fun to think about.
Andrea received lots and lots of baby things, including little outfits, irresistible in their cuteness. However, perhaps one of the nicest presents came from Andrea’s mother, Debbie. It was a handmade quilt made by her neighbor, and the quilt has a 1950’s vintage look with hand-embroidered animals. Little Imogen is bound to have sweet dreams wrapped in that quilt.
By late afternoon, as it was getting dark, the presents were unwrapped, and it was time for Shannon, Debbie, and I to reprise our roles as elves and pack away what remained of what we had brought. As I was picking things up, I glanced into the living room and saw that Andrea was surrounded by a few of the remaining guests, mothers who were sharing their birthing stories. As Andrea listened intently, I was struck by how this rite of passage is one of the few we have left in our modern world—experienced mothers coming together to help a new mother. It made me a little teary eyed to listen to the stories and the advice.
No matter how advanced the technology, which has certainly saved the lives of countless women and babies, we still need the support of other women, their stories and advice.