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We're getting older: Time to party!

By Debbie Leffler • Aug 31, 2018 at 2:00 PM

There are many rites of passage that involve a ceremonial party where those who attend eat, celebrate and bring gifts for the person who is making a life transition. The events that fit this description are baby showers, for people who are expecting a new baby and wedding showers, for people who are approaching a wedding.

I have seen wedding showers where the people about to get married are already living together, so they don’t really need a lot of “stuff.” Sure, it’s nice to get new sheets, towels, and pots and pans to replace worn ones and have a nice new start to hopefully many years of wedded bliss. But are those gifts necessary?

Baby showers — that’s a different story. There are so many things new parents can use for the baby, if it’s their first one. My grandmother used to tell me the story that when she was born — she was a tiny preemie  — her parents made her bed in a shoe box. Her dad owned a shoe factory, so they probably had a lot of boxes to choose from. Really, a new baby just needs a place to sleep and mother’s milk and diapers and parents who are loving and kind. But a bassinet or crib is much better than a shoe box. And there are many accouterments that make life with baby easier ... a baby bathtub (so as not to use the kitchen sink), wipes, blankets, soft little hooded towels, toys, teething rings, a swing, a car seat, little baby outfits, baby shampoo ... the list goes on and on, and that’s leaving out the really extravagant and unnecessary items like baby wipe warmers and “nanny cams.”

My co-workers hosted a shower for me before I had my first baby many years ago. We had nothing and it made the baby inside me seem more real when I received those tiny diapers and sweaters and a car seat and other gifts. One of my co-workers gave me a newborn-sized sleeper for the baby. It was pink. How did she know it was going to be a girl? I wondered. But she was right and I used that sleeper for all three of my daughters.

Now that I’m older I think we should invent a new sort of celebration for those who are getting on in years to mark the transition from young to not-so-young. It’s sort of like a baby shower, or a wedding shower. Let’s call it a “we are older now” shower.

Guests would not have to bring any gift, but they could. Possible gifts could include folders and other organizational tools to help the honoree try to remember where things have been placed when memory fails. Or the little white square called the “Tile” that can be attached to key rings or other items which are sometimes misplaced or lost and are connected to a cell phone via the Tile app that will make the item make a sound when the owner can’t find it.

There is no gift registry for the “we are older now” shower. Gifts are totally optional and in fact are undesirable because mostly they will add to the clutter the aging person has accumulated over the years. Instead, guests must take something with them when they leave, to help the older couple downsize.

There could be competitive games where the loser has to remove something from the house that nobody wants: perhaps the former teenage daughter’s N Sync posters, or the box of kindergarten memorabilia that none of the grown kids wants but the older couple can’t bear to get rid of.

I doubt that this idea will catch on, but who knows? Even if there is never a “we are older now” shower, remember to pay attention to older people — they are not as cute as young pregnant women or engaged couples, but they, too, are going through life changes and could use a little attention.

Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at [email protected]

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