Two Became One

One week ago I was rushing around, making final preparations for our daughter’s wedding. Family and friends were gathered from all over — from as far as away as Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin — staying at local hotels, Air B&Bs or at Hickory Grove (my brother’s home). And in a rare occurrence, we were blessed that all four of my husband’s siblings and spouses came to celebrate with us!

We took the previous week off to spend time with our guests and prepare for the wedding. Truthfully, I could have taken a month off and it still would not have been enough time. But everything was ready by 1:00 pm, with much of the credit going to our amazing wedding coordinator. (She can be seen looking out the window in the photo below.)

The ceremony was held outdoors at a local farm, with a scenic backdrop of apple orchards and Old Rag Mountain. The bride and groom both love nature and the great outdoors, so it was the perfect setting for their vows.

My prayers for a rain-free ceremony were answered. The bride was absolutely radiant as my husband walked her down the grassy aisle and lifted her veil. The groom was so handsome, and any pre-wedding jitters quickly vanished as the ceremony began.

Despite the heat and humidity, I wished to freeze this moment in time. My son and husband sat on either side of me, with family and friends surrounding us. We all came together to celebrate love.

The reception had so many precious moments. The bride and groom showed off their new ballroom dance moves during their first dance, “Stand By Me”. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the room during the father-daughter dance, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. (I still remember them dancing to this song before bedtime when she was a little girl.)

The rest of the day went by in a blur. The buffet was delicious, the cake was phenomenal, and the DJ got everyone up and dancing. It was a party everyone will remember for years to come.

This morning, as I sipped my coffee, I marveled at all that has happened in the past year. Amidst all the craziness of the pandemic, a unexpected romance blossomed and grew.

As two became one, our family expanded. Laughter was shared and new friendships were made. What an amazing gift.

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” — Mark‬ ‭10:7-9‬

Blessings and Memories

As we prepare our homes for the upcoming holiday season, I’m grateful to have one special day set aside to give thanks to God for His many blessings. Gratitude is a daily practice for me, but there is so much in life that I take for granted.

Once Upon a Time

Holidays weren’t always as complicated as they are today. Before the arrival of the internet, cell phones and video games, Thanksgiving was about bringing family together. It was all about the food, the chatter around the table, and friendly football rivalries.

Thanksgiving brings back so many fond childhood memories for me. Sometimes we traveled to my grandparents’ house. Other years we drove to visit my aunts and uncles. My mom was always busy in the kitchen with her sisters, while my brother and I played with cousins we rarely saw. But my dad was always the odd man out. Being an only child, he never seemed comfortable around so many relatives. Making matters worse, he hated football, and that was the only thing on TV after the turkey dinner.

When it was our turn to host Thanksgiving dinner, our living room became a makeshift dining room. Card tables were joined together from one end of the room to the other, laden with fancy glass platters and bowls of delicious foods. There was a lot of laughter, and many stories shared from the “olden days”. It was also a day to catch up on family news while the coffee percolated in the kitchen. Sometimes my dad pulled out his slide projector and we re-visited vacations and holidays from years gone by. (That was social media, 1970’s style.) And he was happy because there was no football. The tables were blocking the view of our black and white TV.

Fast Forward

This year I am looking forward to another Thanksgiving with both children at home with us. Still, it will be a bittersweet day because there will be an empty chair at the table. My mom is no longer able to leave the nursing home to spend holidays with us. Her memory has declined further this past year, and any change in routine can be very stressful. She remembers some faces, but few names. Mom’s absence will be painful, especially for my brother. He has been her caregiver for many years. But in her honor, we will continue one of her favorite Virginia traditions. We will decorate our Christmas tree after dinner.

Life is always changing. I’m sure there will be years with more empty seats around our table. But there will also be years when tables are once again placed end-to-end to accommodate growing families and new friends. There will be laughter and reminiscing about my “olden days” and the ancient technology of the 1990’s, pre-Instagram. And sorry, Dad, but there will always be football.

While we cannot slow the march of time, we can control the pace of our holidays together.

  • Create new family traditions, but hang tight to the old.
  • Play a game together that doesn’t require batteries or a controller.
  • Dust off old photos albums and replay childhood videos.
  • Have that second cup of coffee and another slice of pie.
  • Enjoy the laughter and conversation. (The dishes will wait.)

This Thanksgiving, as I linger over every last bite of turkey, mashed potato and apple pie, I plan to be fully present with my family.

I wish you and your loved ones a Thanksgiving full of grace and abundance.