Wednesday, January 18, 2017

52 Stories: My Bridal Shower

One of the primary reasons I embarked on this project of writing 52 Stories from my life is to make some progress on the mess of unorganized photos that haunt several corners of my home. Their neglected state often causes me real stress and feelings of inferiority, and I want to get rid of those feelings by working a little at a time to scan, identify, and preserve, then tell the story here.
Sadly, some images will be beyond my abilities to really place accurately in time, so some stories will be lost. That fact has been a reason I haven't made more progress on these over the years. That and the scrapbooking craze of the 90's. I just couldn't keep up with that, and it bothers me that even this record won't be perfect. While it may be true that a picture is worth a thousand words, it's frustrating when the date, place and time aren't found among those words. No matter. I've decided to move from feeling bad about myself because of the photos to reclaiming the joy, history, and connections the images actually depict. Huh, what do you know--actually enjoying them instead of only feeling indicted by them. I'm getting there. Anyway, because of this, my 52 Stories won't always follow one of the prompts, nor will they be in chronological order, but they will make me feel so much better about my efforts to preserve my history.

And that brings me to today's selection from the first of several overstuffed shoeboxes: My Bridal Shower. Summer of 1986. Probably late June or early July.

As I looked through these photos, I realized that the story is not about the party itself. It was a normal enough bridal shower-- with lunch and a cake and yes, a bow bonnet. I remember none of the details at all, except that I borrowed the outfit I'm wearing from Valerie, the Belgian exchange student who was living at my parents' house when I got married.

The story is really about the people who came to my shower. I go into a reverie when I consider the memories I have of them. I can remember just about every name in these photos, and I'm so glad of that.

This is Linda Vaughan. The shower was at her house. I bet she also made the cake. She was actually one of my church youth leaders, but because she is gracious and kind as well as fun, she transitioned to becoming an important adult friend during my early married years. She taught school while her husband attended law school and set an early and meaningful example to me about how women of faith can navigate family life in the modern age. We've stayed Christmas Card friends, but I have not seen her in person in many, many years. Perhaps one of the most useful and memorable things she told me was that it's normal for married couples to be annoyed, to fight, and to even not particularly like each other all the time. It was such a relief to know that I didn't need to chase perfection, or never go to bed mad, or any of those things we sometimes hear. If her Christmas cards are any indication, she is as gracious and fun now as she was 30 years ago.

There are so many stories in this photo. Standing in the doorway is Sarah Keller. She and her husband helped welcome Eric and I into the small social world of married couples at our church. I don't remember much about her, but I remember she had a great sense of humor and fun. Seated, from left to right, are: Gerri Anderssen, Susan Michener, Rachael Gaul (on the floor) Gail Gaul, and Joan Arrington. There's someone else on the floor next to Rachael, but the photo is too degraded to see who it is. The other women were my mom's treasured posse--her tribe, except Rachael--she was a dear friend of mine. These people loved my mom and our family. I have many fond memories of kindnesses, shared trips, serving together at church and just knowing without needing to be told that we belonged. I felt part of a community, and it was a good one.

Next to me in this photo is Gail Johnson. I remember her as quiet, with a wonderful sense of humor. We were visiting teaching companions for quite a while, which meant that each month we would work together to keep in touch with, visit, and provide service and friendship for a few ladies in our church community. This meant we spent a lot of time together, and I honestly loved every minute of it.  She and her husband moved away and I missed her a lot. We are also still Christmas Card friends, and a few years ago, she called me and we talked for a while. I remember her beautiful children, her deep love for her parents, and her lovely lilt of a Canadian/Sri Lankan accent.

Here is the glorious bow-bonnet, and in this and the next photo, you see Beth on the right side of the photo. My Bethy. My wonderful friend who showed up in our church congregation when I was about 13 or 14 and has pretty much been my favorite ever since. We are still in touch, and in fact, her daughter stayed with us for some months earlier this year. She can still make me feel like everything is okay in the world, and I'm so grateful for her long-term presence in my life.

Next to Beth is Valerie, whom I mentioned earlier. I've lost touch with her, but I remember really enjoying her presence in my family's home. I was away at college for most of the time she lived with them, but she seemed to love my siblings a lot. I have flashes of her cuddling with the little ones and looking delighted to be around them.

Traditions like this--the gathering of women, the giving of gifts, the marking of a marriage--matter. These women set many patterns for me, and showed that they were on my side as I started my family. Some of the connections at this party were deeper than others, just as it always is, but the fact that they were there means a great deal to me now. It's interesting, I rarely attend showers when I'm invited. Parties and small talk are so hard for me, but in looking at this, I wonder if I should make more of an effort. I usually do care deeply about the bride, or the new mom, and maybe I can do more to help them know they have a tribe. Good food for thought.

If you want to read a story about my wedding day, it's here. 

All in all, I found 11 photos from this event, got them scanned and backed up, and put the originals in an album with approximate dates and all the faces identified. It's a start.


  1. Kellie I love this!! This is so fantastic. I miss you so much and am happy to learn anything new about you.

  2. Good job!! Starting is half the battle. :)


Thank you for sharing your insights!