Today, Chris’s parents threw us the long-awaited engagement party they’d been discussing for the last few months. His mom insisted that they host a celebration since it’s not like something this big happens every day (it always seems to amaze me when people insist on celebrating events like this, since it seems that the opposite is encouraged in my family.. particularly since occasions like this involve planning and logistics, and thus would be considered “work,” also known as “suffering” for some). She and Chris’s dad took care of everything, from the fancy and large mousse and lemon curd dark chocolate brownie cake to the food catering to even the setup and the photography. About 50 guests showed up, including, family, more distant relatives, as well as Chris’s friends from high school and college. All we did was show up and arrange the food on the tables in the park.
Whenever I am in the presence of all of Chris’s people, I am always a bit overwhelmed with how warm and welcoming they are. I guess I should be used to it by now, but I feel like I am still waiting for the one person who will not be warm and happy to meet me, the person who may even be passive aggressive or grill me about every detail of my life that I may keep hidden from the wider family. Clearly I think this way based on my life experiences and the way my family is, but in some way, it could even be tainting my ability to truly just accept that others can be so accepting and genuine with me and not have some motive to find fault in who I am.
The other thing that surprised me about today was how many gifts we received. When Susan and Tony originally informed us that they’d like to host a party for us, I honestly was not even thinking about receiving or asking for gifts, yet we left the party not just with heaps of leftover sandwiches and cake, but also with boxes and boxes of gifts and greeting cards. It reminded me of the original reason I wouldn’t have wanted to throw an engagement party for myself – I hate the idea of engagement gifts and registries, particularly the expectation that simply because one is engaged that she should receive gifts. It’s the reason so many people hate weddings – the (sometimes) unspoken, constant expectation for material goods in the form of “gifts” – presents for engagement, then for bridal showers, potentially even for bachelorettes, and then of course for the wedding itself, and even honeymoon gifts!! I don’t want people to think we are hosting these events to hoard gifts or profit off of them. We honestly just want the time to celebrate and for me to meet friends I haven’t had the chance to meet. We appreciate the gifts, but we don’t really expect them in this case.