Skipping the Shower

My sister is pregnant, and her baby shower is coming up. But it’s not coming up quite soon enough for me: my cousin is planning it, and she managed to set the date for after I begin a study abroad program.

I’m not thrilled, of course. On top of the fact that I’m going to have to skip the shower, I’m stressing about the gift. I know with weddings you give gifts even if you can’t make it (right?), so I’m trying to budget for a gift while also affording my plane tickets and fees for my passport and visas and all that kind of stuff. I’m really stressed out. What should I do? Do I have to send a gift? How can I tell my sister I have to miss the shower?

It’s no fun to be left out of a big event, but remember that your sister’s baby shower is just one part of the big journey she’s on right now. It’s not your fault that your cousin planned things the way she did — if anything, you and your sister have a right to speak to your cousin about changing plans to accommodate your schedule.

If for any reason that’s not possible, try not to worry about the shower. You are not obligated to send gifts to a shower that you can’t make (you are, however, right that this is technically the rule regarding weddings–though it can be loosely interpreted depending on your relationship to the couple). If you feel strongly that you want to, of course, you’re free to do so–shower experts say that modern baby showers often have gift registries similar to the more common wedding registry. Since a registry like, for instance, a Babies R Us registry would be online, it would easy for you to make a purchase from anywhere and have it mailed directly to your sister.

You may also want to reach out to your cousin about finding a way to attend the shower virtually. After all, modern technology allows us to visit faraway places with video chat programs like Skype and Facetime. Perhaps there’s a way for you to get in on the fun, after all!

But, again, it sounds as if you’d be best served by avoiding the shower stress for now and focusing on your own plans for at least a little longer. You can get help with travel visas online, and if your budget can’t stretch beyond your travel plans, your sister will likely understand. Speak with her about how much she and her soon-to-grow family mean to you–communication is key in any relationship, and you may find that your stress about missing this one event or not having a present (or a good enough present) are misplaced.

“I sustain myself with the love of family,”  Maya Angelou