I posted a while back about how I was planning a baby shower/Blessingway (thank you so much to readers who had suggestions or rituals of their own to share). I'm happy to report that it went off fantastically! We decided to make Blessingway portion of the shower very simple but hopefully meaningful. In the Evite we sent out to the invitees, I explained the plan (bring a bead and think of a wish/hope/thought to say for the new mom/parents) and I sent several reminders to people to bring a bead. Since the shower was for one of my fellow MCHers, we put a lot of far-flung alums on the guest list and suggested that people who couldn't attend still send a bead and a note.
Despite all the reminders, for some reason I couldn't really believe that people would actually bring a bead or take the ceremony too seriously. As the organizer, I myself ended up running over to the bead store the morning of (where I found a big lovely rainbow-striped bead). We brought some extras assuming most people would forget or not have time.
It turned out we had about 21 people attending and I think almost every one of them brought their own bead! Not only that, but we had several long-distance contributions including an MCH alum who mailed us her bead and then Skyped in live from the country of Mali to speak. As we went around and each person placed her bead on the string, I was so pleasantly amazed and touched by the heartfelt thought and wishes each one put into their little speech. Some people talked about the treasured friendship they had with the parents-to-be, others had wishes for health and happiness, others talked about why they knew the couple would be wonderful parents. There was a lot of laughter and some tears too. Each bead was so beautiful and when it was over, the necklace was so lovely with all of them placed together.
One of the things I most enjoyed about it, which I didn't really think about in advance, was the chance for a non-material focus as part of the shower. While there were many great gifts, the part that felt really special was the part where people talked about their love and hopes for the new family. It was a good reminder that while swaddling blankets and slings are needed and great, a caring community of friends is at least as important. It was really just a wonderful experience, and multiple people said it was their favorite part.
I don't think a ritual like this would work at every shower, but I hope to incorporate it into future baby-celebrations that I plan!