A few Christmases ago, in leu of a “big” gift my parents gave me some cash. That chilly Christmas morning Mom said “I know you’ve been wanting a stand mixer and a new camera lens but I couldn’t decide which to get. So use it for one of those.” I took my parent’s gift, combined it with the rest of the cash I received that year, some Kohl’s cash and price matching skills to purchase a beautiful KitchenAid Artisan Stand mixer in Empire Red. The only thing I thought twice about was the color. I use it often and every time I
think to myself say to myself “I love this mixer”!
I recently attended a friend’s bridal shower. I love bridal showers because it’s a good excuse to get dressed up, eat girlie foods and celebrate a joyful occasion in the life of a friend. My friend was opening her gifts and after boxes of place settings, towels and kitchen utensils she opened the last gift- a beautiful green KitchenAid mixer. Everyone oohed and ahhed over it and rightly so, its the Lexus of Kitchen Appliances and absolutely worth the money! The soon to be bride remarked that she has been looking forward to getting married for a long time partially because of the chance to get a KitchenAid which got some good laughs from the crowd.
After the gifts were all opened my group of friends stood around and talked for a bit. The mixer was the talk of the mostly single group of women. One of my friends echoed the bride’s sentiment that marriage = mixer when she said “I cannot wait to get married so I can get a Kitchenaid. I’ve wanted one since college!” All the other girls nodded their heads at the statement. (Except for me- I have the mixer and told them how great it is and that it is worth purchasing yourself. I was jealous of the fancy cheese grater my friend received.)
As I listened to the conversation I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony of it. I was surrounded by accomplished women with full time jobs, several who own their own homes. Here we were as full grown adults with lives, homes and paychecks laminating the lack of marriage because we don’t have nice kitchen things. And I, while I own the mixer, was right there with them. As I would bet all my other single women friends feel similarly.
I was reminded of the chapter in Little Women when Meg is getting married and the whole family pitches in to prepare her home and marry her off. Until she walks out of the March home at the end of her wedding day Meg lives with her parents. She leaves the March home to walk to her new home with her new husband knowing that the beds were made, tables set and linen closet full of all the linens she would need. She was showered with all that she needed to keep her own house with her new husband and her family even helped her set it up and decorate before the wedding.
The idea of bridal showers originated in a world like the March sisters knew. Where women left their familial homes to go to build a house with their husband. They needed all the the house things- kitchen gadgets, pans, etc. because they were just starting out in the world on their own. The women in each younger woman’s life helped prepare her and get her started.
While the culture in America has changed, our traditions and ideas of “rites of passages” haven’t. We still view marriage as that pivotal rite where the man and woman pass from childhood to adulthood. We still mark it with buying people linens and kitchen gadgets even though the average age for men and women to marry is inching very close to 30 (which I am doing a good job, apparently, of helping raise. You are welcome younger singles.)
While I’m so glad to buy a gift that a friend needs as he or she makes that leap to marriage, very rarely does marriage mark their transition to adulthood. The friend who’s shower I just attended is a homeowner in her late 20s. No one would dispute her adulthood. My friends are in similar places- most in their late 20s, some of us in our 30s. There is this sense among singles (not just that shower attending group of friends) that you can’t have nice things until you get married and can register for them.
I wonder if this old way of helping support young adults as they transition to a new phase of life is creating a chasm between the “haves and have nots” of marrieds and singles. The American culture is not known for having solid rites of passage like some other cultures and that sad fact is why I think we hold so tightly to the ones we do have like marriage. But how do we as a culture, a church, as friends or families do to support and encourage all people transitioning to adulthood?
I have no idea what the answer is and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, jealous or petty. I am certainly not saying if you are married you should buy your single friends $300 mixers. I just think there has to be a way for us as a culture or individuals to support and encourage everyone around us, not just those going to college, getting married or having babies. Did a friend just start a new job? Meet him or her for lunch during their first week to hear about it and in the second month when the honeymoon phase wears off. Did a friend just get a house or a new rental? Show up to help pack, carry boxes or paint not just for a dinner party.
We should celebrate all life transitions with each other! Maybe that just starts with us showing that support to our friends. I want to be a person who celebrates significant moments in the lives of those around me- no matter what it is.