This past weekend we celebrated the marriage of two wonderful members of our extended family in Maine. There was a sweet, funny ceremony in a church decked in twinkling lights, and a festive gathering at an old stately mansion beautifully decorated for the holidays. Love was in the air. Family was all around. The day was beautiful.
Oh. Did I mention we had a toddler with us?
Writing about our experiences with Chloe at said wedding would be cliché. First, most of the people who read this blog were there, so this would be old news. And also, it's kind of obvious: this was a wedding. My child is almost two and enjoys wiggling her way out of high chairs in restaurants and swiping things off shelves in every store we visit. At church we've perhaps made the mistake of letting her stand in the back during the music and quickly bringing her downstairs to the nursery, not teaching her to sit and listen. So you can imagine how things went.
There was much chasing that day, and holding, and gently shushing. On the plus side, I think I got enough exercise to burn off dinner and the cake.
So, yeah, I don't need to drag you through the whole thing. And I'm not going to lie and say I stayed calm and serene and keeping my perspective and didn't sweat the small stuff, because I'm human. I wanted to have adult conversation. I wanted to visit with people I rarely see and spend more time celebrating the happy couple. I was grouchy.
I remember happening to be in just the right spot to glance out the window, while everyone else was unaware, and see the groomsmen, huddled in the December darkness, laughing and "trashing" the groom's car.
And while chasing Chloe we discovered a long hallway that lead into a different part of the "house," where there were huge, elaborate rooms, a grand staircase, and a large, formal parlor with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
And later in that room with the staircase we gathered for a picture and for a brief moment the entire family was together in that one spot, smiling and fidgeting and attempting to look good for the photographer, and Chloe was still and there was time to stop and remember that these times do not happen often, and there are few things better than gathering with the people you love.
And from that part of the house you could look to the mansion next door that was brilliantly decorated with lights that made the cousins oooh and aaah when they looked out the windows.
And there were the words from the groom's dad (Dan's uncle) before the prayer and dinner began that were so precious and full of love for his grown son that there had to be more than a few eyes welling up in that room (mine did).
And the moment when Dan and I had a few seconds to talk when we were realizing both how happy we were for the new couple but very glad that we were not starting all over again. There is something very freeing about being content where you are right now, about not pining for the past because it's never coming back, about being grateful for what experience and children and challenges have taught you.
There was, a little later, the second when we got out of the car at the grandparents' house and told the kids to stop and look up at all of the stars. Every time, especially because we see so few of them where we live near the city, every time they take my breath away. Sometimes I wonder how much more peaceful, grateful, and insignificant in a very good way we would feel if we could go outside each night and look up at thousands upon thousands of stars.
And then there was time spent with Dan's grandparents, family I now consider my own and who graciously welcome our little zoo to come and stay; grandparents I have "adopted" as my own, as I have no living grandparents now. And they've adopted me, from the beginning.
And the moments Chloe spent reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with her great-grandfather.
And the drive home with all of the family together, something that hasn't happened often in recent years due to Dan's work schedule, and the way that December can be beautiful even without snow, and the drive over the green bridge and river in Portsmouth, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire that is always beautiful, despite the smokestacks.
I am more convinced than ever that we can never be truly happy or content if we are not able to find joy in small moments that may be hiding right in the middle of the more trying ones.
This is often more easily said than done, and this is not something I always do well. As I write right now two kids just came down the stairs way too early, and I'm annoyed.
But filled with love, too. And praying always for eyes that see differently, see beyond these "light and momentary troubles."
Thursday, December 17, 2015
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