Backyard Wedding

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I went to a beautiful backyard wedding last night, Carol and Randy’s.  On the way home, we talked about what made the event especially nice, and we finally decided that it was EVERYTHING. From the setting to the music and food and special combination of people, we loved it. Oh, and then there’s the fact that love was involved; that always adds the icing on the cake (quite a cliché, but still true).

It rained all the way to Sumter, and the closer we got to the house, the heavier the showers became. When we arrived, the bride’s son-in-law was standing barefoot in the drive, umbrella overhead, directing guests back to their cars to wait it out. The family had been closely watching the weather reports, and all were confident that the storm would pass by 5:00.  Sure enough, the downpour turned to a light sprinkle, and by the time we made it to the backyard, we put our umbrellas away. I loved the symbolism of the cleansing rain followed by the life-giving sun.

The back yard was beautifully decorated, and as we waited for the nuptials to begin, we watched as several close friends and family members wiped down tables and chairs, one of whom was Marna. She had come from Wilmington and at the moment, clad in her wedding attire and white tennis shoes, was working diligently to help sop up the rain with a thick towel. In case you’re wondering, yes, she later changed from the wet tennis shoes to a pair of stylish white sandals. (Marna, we miss you at CCTC!)

The music was provided by two of my co-workers, T-Bo and Jackson, and by Brent, a fabulous DJ; all three did a great job of adding just the right musical ambience to the evening. The co-worker duo played their guitars, and T-Bo sang a few of Carol’s favorites including “Love Remains.” It was beautiful, and I became quite emotional as I listened carefully to the words of the song. I think the setting beneath the trees, glistening after the spring showers, added to the sentimental feelings. And lest I forget, two birds soared high between the treetops during the vows, a sight that seemed to say, “We’re in love too!”

Vows complete, Carol’s brother, a minister who had conducted the service, pronounced them husband and wife, and everyone clapped.  As the afternoon and evening progressed, people chatted, danced to the DJ’s selections (each carefully selected by Carol and Randy), reunited with old friends, ate scrumptious barbeque and the fixin’s, shared stories, and laughed a lot. Everyone was happy for the couple and grateful for love, sweet love. I met a couple who met (or re-met?) at their 15th high school reunion a few decades ago and married not quite two months later. We chatted briefly about the importance of timing, but before I could hear more about their romance, my hubby snagged me to go to the drink table with him.

I must share this. While we were eating, Nancy, a friend and techno-savvy person, came to our table and asked each couple for advice to give Carol and Randy. It was impromptu, but I think we did “okay” in our brief videotaping segments. Rex and Patricia advice was to remember that each of them loved the other more than anyone else in the world. In their case, whenever either of them gets perturbed, they think, “No one loves me more than Patrica (or Rex),” and that thought quells acrimony or annoyance. Patricia went on to say that although he doesn’t drink coffee, Rex gets up every morning and fixes it for her. One day when he didn’t have time to prepare it (can’t remember the reason), he went to Baker’s Sweets, a local eatery and coffee shop, and bought her a cup. That’s love. The rest of us gave some pretty good advice too, but I don’t have time to write about it now. Maybe later.

People drank peach tea and wine, ate fruit and wedding cookies, and savored barbeque and rice. They thought about love and families and connections. “The sun comes up and seasons change, but though it all, love remains.” A good time was had by all, and I hope the Brileys have a long and happy life together.

Two Different Weddings

As I recall the looks of love and downright adoration that passed between Chris and Angie, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll have rough patches. But they will. So will Nate and Brittany. I fervently hope that they’ll ride them out together, partners united in purpose and love.

I’m thinking of two couples who got married yesterday, one in the Columbia LDS temple and the other in a lovely outdoor setting, the beach of the Lake House at Lake Carolina in Blythewood. Both settings were beautiful, yet different. Both ceremonies were special, yet unique.

The temple is a scene of exquisite beauty and sacredness, and I can get emotional in a heartbeat as I visualize Nate and Brittany kneeling at the altar and facing each other as they were sealed together for time and all eternity. The last temple wedding I attended was my son’s, and I’ll always remember the way I felt when he walked into the room and gave me a little smile as he took his place beside me…for only a moment. Then before I knew it, he was Amanda’s husband.

The lakeside setting was also breathtakingly gorgeous. As I mentioned to several people, even if a wedding hadn’t taken place, it was still a lovely place to sit and meditate and “be still and know.” The fact that a marriage ceremony occurred on the beach just added more to the awesome feel and look of the setting. With the sun on our skin, a gentle breeze wafting through the tall pines, the sand beneath our feet, the placid lake in front of us, and the blue, blue Carolina sky, I’d have to say it too was a holy place. Seeing Chris and Angie vow to love and be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives only added to the special spirit of the place.

Both weddings had receptions where there was good food and fellowship.  And music and dancing too. Since I wasn’t at Nate and Brittany’s reception, I can’t describe it, but I can certainly attest to the spectacular music at the lakeside reception. From mellow to traditional and beach to soul, it was awesome. And the dancing? It was phenomenal.  I loved watching people more coordinated and less inhibited than I on the dance floor, especially a little boy named Cole and my husband’s five grandchildren. Little Charlie stole the show.

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to hear that I enjoyed talking with and listening to the other guests. Everyone has a story, and it was a pleasure to hear such a variety of them. It was also nice to chat with so many like-minded individuals, and this afternoon I’m remembering a vow that two of us made to….well, that’s our pledge to each other, and I’ll let you know more about it when I make some progress on this endeavor.

The food was yummy, the music was spectacular, the weather was perfect, the background was gorgeous, and everyone was in a good mood! What more can you ask for? All that comes to mind is a wish that both young couples have a long life of happiness together. One of the wedding guests mentioned a study she had read about couples who divorce. According to the article, 50 percent of the couples who divorced probably would have “made it” if they’d just somehow gotten through the rough patch…or two or three.

As I recall the looks of love and downright adoration that passed between Chris and Angie, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll have rough patches. But they will. So will Nate and Brittany. I fervently hope that they’ll ride them out together, partners united in purpose and love.

Making it Work

A friend of mine is getting married Saturday, and this upcoming event has me pondering exactly what it is that makes marriage work. While there may be several factors involved, I particularly like some suggested by psychologist John Gottman (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work).

 Gottman says that what makes marriage work is surprisingly simple. Happily married couples have conflict just like unhappily married ones, but they handle it differently. For one thing, they keep their negative thoughts and feelings about each other from overwhelming their positive ones. Plus, they keep quiet about some of these things. Criticizing merely serves to hurt the other party so why do it?

 Happily married couples don’t allow major differences of opinion to destroy their marriage.  Gottman found that 69 percent of conflicts involve perpetual or unresolvable problems. Jewish or Christian? Catholic or Mormon? Miser or spendthrift? While people might try hard to change each other, it doesn’t work. Successful couples know that significant disagreements are about values and different ways of seeing the world and that these things don’t change. Eventually, they accept each other and the differences rather than continuing to try to control or change things.

 As a quick example, my husband loves to hunt and is in the woods/swamp much of the time from September through December. Not having grown up in a hunting family, this was totally foreign to me. It still is. I just don’t see how anyone could actually enjoy getting all excited about killing an innocent animal, especially when I think about the elaborate ruses (corn, special cameras) used to attract or keep an eye on Bambi and friends. My sweet husband has patiently explained to me more times than I can recall about the need to keep the deer population in check. He usually ends the “lesson” with a reminder that I eat hamburgers and that hamburgers come from a cow. Does this make a difference in how I feel about taking the life of a deer? Not one iota. But have I learned to “go with the flow?” Yes. He’s not going to change and nor am I, and getting perturbed about this basic difference in values and behavior is not going to change either of us.

 Here’s another big surprise. According to Gottman, happy marriages are not unusually open and honest. In fact, they shove a lot of issues under the rug. This flies in the face of many types of counseling techniques that advise open communication. Gottman feels that too much honesty can have a detrimental effect since no one like to be told about his or her shortcomings even if it’s for their “own good.” Maybe the best thing to do is to feel the anger or annoyance and then split up for a while. In our case, he goes hunting or golfing, and I go walking or shopping.

 And finally, Gottman says that keeping romance alive is important. However, it’s not necessarily the moonlight and roses that count but rather the day-to-day forms of attention that the partners give each other. When my friend Lisa calls her husband on the phone, he answers by saying, “Hello, my love.”  It’s a little thing, and yet in relationships the little things are the big ones.

 There’s a lot more to it than this. There’s friendship, mutual respect, and admiration…and love, sweet love. Does anyone else have any advice for Carol and Randy?

Yuletide Memories

Ouch. Hayden’s comment about my new header made me realize that yes indeed, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of my New York trip and the dozens and dozens of pictures. So much in fact that I went straight from NYC to Williamsburg and then jumped right over Christmas. It’s not that I didn’t have good intentions of recording all of the joyous moments and memorable sights and sounds. Is it too late now? I hope not. Warning: If you don’t know me, you’ll probably be bored to tears. If you do know me and my loved ones, then you might enjoy it.  

On the Saturday before Christmas we got together with DH’s extended family for a scrumptious dinner and fun family time. Santa came by for a visit, thus making the day even more memorable. DH’s nephew donned the red suit and black boots and apparently did such a great job of impersonating the jolly  visitor from the North Pole that his little daughter later said, “You wouldn’t believe what you missed, Dad. Santa came while you were gone!” Aren’t kids wonderful?

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On Sunday, I enjoyed singing and hearing Christmas carols. That afternoon and into the evening, Mr. B. and I wrapped gifts and decorated the house for a breakfast on Monday morning. I sneaked out for a couple of hours that night to hear a beautiful, soul-stirring cantata at First Baptist Church. DH doesn’t much care for such goings-on, so I was fortunate to run into Lisa and Sophia, some church friends.

On Monday, DH’s children and grandchildren arrived for a heavy duty breakfast and gift exchange, and Tuesday found my sister and me in Myrtle Beach for the day so that we could spend some time with our brother David and his family. The lucky stiffs were renting a condo on Ocean Boulevard, and it was nice to have a few hours to reunite with them. To sweeten the day, my sister-in-law Becky’s sisters arrived in time for lunch, thus another reunion. Did I mention that my good looking son met us at the food court at Coastal Grand Mall?

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Christmas Eve was spent cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and delivering goodies. On Christmas day, we motored over to Columbia to eat with Mike, my other brother, and his family. Our Aunt Joni joined us. Huge fun. Mike and Lisa’s home has a warm, welcoming feel to it, especially the kitchen. Oh, but so does the family room. Come to think of it, so does the dining room where we gathered around a large round table. Hmm, so does the sun room which they’re recently furnished.

 

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 My children and grandchildren arrived that afternoon, Elizabeth first and then the Crolleys and Masedas. It was delightful to have them all here, and we spent the evening doing what thousands of other families were doing: eating and opening gifts. Speaking of the eating part, my son keeps reminding me to “stick to the basics, Mom,” and this year I did it. Sure, I mixed and measured and grilled and broiled and baked with the best of them (so to speak), but I did stick to a simple menu. That way, I was an itty bitty less harried and thus more into the merry spirit of the occasion. But I digress. Here are the grandchildren sitting in the Adirondack chairs that Elizabeth and her friend Carla painted and decorated for them. 

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While it was fun, I kept thinking something was missing. Later, I realized what it was: We had no program. That might seem like a strange thing to say, but years ago, we began having a program of sorts.  Someone would read the Christmas story in Luke, I would read “A Cup of Christmas Tea” (sweet story) or some other little book or poem, their dad would read “One Solitary Life,” and we’d often end with Paul exclaiming (like Tiny Tim), “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”  I recall one year before my mother’s death when Ann gave us a Christmas quiz dealing with Biblical information, and I think Greg, a preteen at the time, won the prize. I couldn’t even remember the name of Elisabeth’s husband. Well, at least I knew the name of the angel who visited Mary…unlike someone who shall remain unnamed.

Read between the lines, my dear children and start preparing your parts for next year. While I’m on the subject, now that we have Amanda in the family, perhaps she can add some music to our family Christmas. Hmmm. And perhaps Rich and Braden can strum a little something on their guitars.

Okay, we’re up to Friday, a day the girls and I spent shopping and exchanging things. Greg and Anna were getting married the next day, and we had to make sure that our attire was appropriate from head to toe. Paul and Amanda met us for lunch, as did Sarah Beth, my niece. That night Mr. B. and I went to Greg and Anna’s rehearsal dinner in Florence, a very nice affair. Sitting around the table with my sibs and their spouses, DH, and Paul and Amanda was fantabulous (that’s a real word; I heard it in Van Morrison’s “Moondance”). The groom’s father Allen gave an excellent toast, heartfelt and articulate.

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Saturday arrived cold and wet. One of my fondest memories of the day is of walking through the dining room and seeing Paul, Amanda, Carrie, and Rich playing Buzzword in the dining room while hearing sounds of laugher from Elizabeth and Emma from the bedroom down the hall. Braden was off somewhere being “serious,” and Brooke was shriveling and shivering in the bathtub. Yep, we temporarily forgot her with all of our busyness. 

FINALLY, we were all ready to head out to Pamplico for the wedding. It was beautiful. My niece Katherine sang “Surely the Presence,” a hymn that I love. I hope someone sings it at my funeral. Paul was a groomsman, and he and Greg were the most handsome fellas up front. John and Chris, David’s sons, were in the congregation, and they’re pretty easy on the eyes too. Do I sound a bit biased? Perhaps I am. A nice reception followed, and my favorite part of the evening was dancing with Baby Emma.

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Sunday morning found us at church. It was divine (really) to sit with people I’m kin to. Mr. B. isn’t much of a churchgoer, so that’s usually a solitary activity for me. Well, sort of. I never feel alone; plus, it always brings me great joy to know that even when they’re not beside me, all three children and their families are in another ward getting the same kind of spiritual nourishment.

By Sunday at 3:00 o’clock, the house was quiet. I have my memories, and I like to think that some of the laughter lingers within our walls, especially the dining room where so much love and fun and memories were shared.

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Keep Them Smiling

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Nice picture, huh? It was taken in November at a Family Fall Fiesta for the young couple on the left, Greg and Anna, my nephew and his wife (then his fiancée). Paul and Amanda, my son and his wife, are the newlyweds on the right. We had just had a fun afternoon of opening gifts, eating some tasty comfort food, playing games, and just generally enjoying the convivial spirit of the day.

Greg and Anna got married Saturday night. The bride and her attendants were all beautiful, and the groom and his groomsmen were all handsome (especially PC). The church was lovely, the music was soul stirring, and the service itself was lovely, a touching reminder of the solemn nature of the marriage commitment.  What I loved most about the entire weekend from rehearsal dinner to wedding reception was the opportunity to be family members who had gathered from near and far to witness the nuptials. I even got to dance with my 21 month old granddaughter Emma.

What’s on my mind tonight is Anna’s beautiful smile. She’s a lovely, gracious, and happy young woman who always has a genuine smile for everyone she meets.  Her “essence” reminds me of my daughter-in-law Amanda who’s equally winsome and pleasant. Nearly every time I talk to Paul, I can count on hearing Amanda’s laughter in the background, and it warms my heart to know that there’s a joyful spirit in their home.   

There’s a lot to be said for that, you know.  I sincerely believe that the woman sets the emotional tone for the home, and if she’s happy, chances are that others will be too. If, on the other hand, the lady of the house is dour, complaining, bitter, sad, or shrewish, then, well, you get the picture. What is the bible says? Something about it being better to be on a rooftop than inside a house with a brawling woman, right?  At the moment, I’m thinking of a woman who can only be described as a harpy who spent her waking hours nagging the lifeblood out of her husband and children. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but still….

What I’m leading up to is that I want Greg and Paul and all of the other husbands who value peace in the home to keep those ladies smiling and happy. How?  There are no shortcuts or magic formulas, but I know from experience and observation that some kind, uplifting, complimentary words go a long, long way in creating harmony. So does offering to help with routine, mundane chores…and assisting with grumpy, colicky, or whiny children. So does taking her out once in a while…even having a date night at least once per week. Make her feel special, include her in decision making, and learn her “language of love.” Respect her. Laugh together and have fun.

 These ladies are your life partners. Keep them smiling, Gentlemen.

Wedding Weekend

My daughter Elizabeth and I went on a road trip to historic Cartersville, GA this past weekend so that she could be in her college roommate’s wedding. Beth and Jason got married on the grounds of the Sullivan House outside of Marietta on Friday, July 11, and honestly, it was one of the best (beautiful and fun) weddings and rehearsals I’ve ever attended. Yes, I loved my children’s weddings, but I was probably too emotional  to enjoy them as fully and completely as I did this one.

 

What made it so special? It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing because the music, the ambience, the special mix of people, and the scrumptious food all combined to make this a spectacular event. Everything from the tiny glittering lights to the potato puffs was perfect. And I stole an idea about making palm tree decorations from a potato, a carrot, a green pepper, and toothpicks. Very clever and so cool. And the people? At the moment I’m remembering the couple from PA and the American flag on the man’s lapel. “I always try to find a way to honor the troops,” he said.

 

As the wedding guests waited for the wedding to begin, we sat beside a huge magnolia tree listening to a gifted harpist. Although she had plenty of competition from the cicadas, birds, and road noise, the harpist managed to create a calm, peaceful ambience. It was hot, sultry even, so we sat and fanned ourselves with some fans that Beth had created for her guests.

 

As the attendants began the processional, all went according to plan except that one of the four little flower girls seemed reluctant to come down with her sisters. Beth was gorgeous in her exquisite white gown, and I’m still thinking about how pretty the pearls in her blond curly hair looked. Elizabeth was beautiful in her latte colored dress, but then I suppose I’m a bit biased. After the vows were spoken, the young couple poured sand from two separate vases into one, a change from the customary candle lighting.

 

As I waited with the other guests for the wedding party to cross the lawn to the reception, I assumed this reception would be like countless others I’ve attended: dancing, food, laughter, and words of congratulations. I was right…but I was wrong too because this was a stellar reception. Everyone there danced. Everyone. And yet very few people appeared to be drunk. Beth and Jason had carefully selected just the right music designed to get everyone on the dance floor at least once. The parents danced to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song,” and that was sweet. The father/daughter and mother/son songs were perfect as well. The DJ played “Fly me to the Moon” for me, and the four little flower girls danced with what I’d have to describe as wild abandon to that tune.  

 

Jason’s family made an indelible impression on Elizabeth and me, enough so that I could write about each of them. However, I’m going to stick to Ryan, a recent college grad who’s currently working for a cruise line in Alaska. He came home especially for his brother’s wedding, and as we talked during the weekend events, it became increasingly apparent that this was no ordinary young man. Energetic, fun-loving, and respectful, he was also a good dancer and made everyone feel a little more upbeat.

 

As we parted company with the Yohe’s, I told Carol, the mother, what a wonderful family she had and that I was glad our paths had crossed. Ryan spoke up and shared his philosophy that as long as he had to be somewhere, he was going to make the best of it and have a good time. Simple idea but a profound one too. Elizabeth and I talked about it off and on the rest of the weekend. As long as you have to go to work, try to make the best of it and have a good time. When you’re in a social setting, do the same. In fact, while here on Earth, make the most of your time here, and LIVE. And while you’re at it, try to make it more enjoyable for others too. Laugh a lot and dance too.

 

Thanks for the lesson, Ryan…and for the dance lessons too. Move up, move back, right?

 

 

 

Wedding Pictures

The wedding and reception are behind us, and the groom’s mother (yours truly) is busily back into the routine of daily life. It’s hard to believe that nearly a week has passed since the BIG DAY and that I haven’t posted a word or photo on my blog. The word is “beautiful,” and the photos are too numerous to post. However, I’ve culled through the dozens from the rehearsal, wedding, and reception (seems like everyone had a camera), and here are six of my favorites.

The first is of the newly married couple as they walked outside of the temple as man and wife. I have tons (or so it seems) of posed, smiling shots, but I especially like this one since it captures them in a more natural moment. Although you can’t see it, they’re holding hands, and I hope they continue doing that throughout their lives.

The second is Brooke and Braden, two of my precious grandchildren. If you’re puzzled at why it’s a favorite, take a closer look at his dimples and her fetching smile as they sit patiently waiting for the next happening of the day. And do I really need to explain why the picture of Baby Emma sitting contentedly in the bed of yellow pansies is so special?

The fourth is a favorite because of the sweet grandmothers who make me think of bookends holding the family together and up. Decked out in their pretty aqua attire, they’re at the far ends of each family represented, and yet if not for them, no one else would even be in the picture…nor would there have been a wedding that morning, at least not of Paul and Amanda. Families are important, and these grandmothers are grand.

The fifth photograph in this particular series is of the newlyweds as they left the reception surrounded by bubble-blowing friends and family, a crowd of well wishers who sent the lovebirds off with hugs and fond farewells. I hope they’ll always be surrounded with such love and support. The last shot was taken the next morning shortly before they flew off to Cozumel for a honeymoon, the first of many trips and adventures they will share.

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