Small Changes

When I was young, I liked few things better than going out on a Saturday night with my husband.  It didn’t matter if it was a quiet dinner for just the two of us or we were joining our friends at a party. As long as I was out and about on a Saturday night, I was a happy camper.  The only exceptions were if we invited friends or family over to our house, or if something we couldn’t control (like the flu or icy roads) prevented us from leaving home.  As far as I was concerned, Saturday nights were for celebrating and being with the people I loved best.

Then we had a couple of children and learned that the joys of going out on a Saturday night weren’t always worth the hassle.  We didn’t have much family nearby and reliable babysitters were both expensive and hard to find.  Going out on Saturday night became a rare treat, usually enjoyed only once a month or so.  Not that we minded…we found other ways to enjoy Saturday nights that included the children.  But I’d be lying if I said we didn’t look forward to the nights we managed to slip away for a quiet dinner at a nice restaurant or to catch a good movie.

All too soon, our children grew up and we were once again able to “go out” on a Saturday night without any advance planning involved.  And we did, probably more often that our budget actually allowed.  I guess all those years of having to plan a night out made us feel that we were doing something special when we headed out on a Saturday night, even if we had reached the age when our “big night out” almost always ended before ten.

These days, however, we have a whole new idea of a fun way to spend Saturday night.  These days our ideal Saturday night would be spent in the company of a very little person who just happens to be our grandson.  When we tell our daughter and son-in-law that we would be happy to babysit so they can enjoy a date night, we are only telling a partial truth.  We are happy to babysit for the little guy, period.  That fact that his parents are getting in some couple time is just icing on the cake.

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Last Saturday night, we put on our jeans and sweatshirts and headed over to our daughter’s house.  While she and her husband attended a fund-raising event with his family, we took turns changing diapers, feeding bottles, and walking the floor with a baby snuggled on our shoulders.  Whoever didn’t have the baby took their turn petting the family dog, who seems unfazed by the tiny addition to her family.

I suppose my idea of the ideal Saturday night out hasn’t really changed all that much.  Our evening may not have been romantic or particularly exciting, but that didn’t matter at all.  I still spent Saturday night with the people I love the most, and that is celebration enough for me.

 

Shower Gifts

Yesterday, I helped host a family shower for my son’s fiance.   I admit that I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, because I really love the young woman my son is marrying and wanted to throw her a nice shower to welcome her into our family.  My daughter, who also helped host the shower, wanted to do a champagne brunch, so we booked a room in a nearby restaurant for the event, ordered some petite fours and cake pops from a local bakery to serve, and in general, did all the things that one does when planning a bridal shower.  Still, I was just a little bit on edge, wondering if everything would go well and being more than a little bit afraid that something would inevitably go wrong.  Little Mary Sunshine, that’s me.

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But I am happy to say that everything went just fine.  The restaurant staff was very professional, setting up the room the way we wanted it and serving delicious food.  We had a nice turn-out, and everyone seemed to have a good time.   As is the tradition, at the end of the shower, the bride-to-be opened her gifts while we all watched.  She got some terrific presents and seemed very happy with all of them, which was a wonderful thing to see.

Still, while I was watching my future daughter-in-law open her gifts, I found my mind wandering a bit.  I kept looking around the room at all the people who were there, and realizing how much I appreciated each of them being there.  Each and every person in that room made the effort to take time out of their busy weekend to come to this shower, showing their support for the newest addition to our family.  And their presence was a gift.

My sister helped host and provided the beautiful flowers for the shower.  My mother offered assistance in any way that was needed, and helped us set up the room.  My sisters-in-law from Iowa not only came a great distance to attend the shower, they showed up early to help us get ready and stayed late to help clean up afterwards.  My sister-in-law from downstate, her two daughters and her granddaughter, all came to help us celebrate and show their support.

Family friends came, some of whom I have known for my entire life.  Friends I met when I was just a baby and friends I met when I was newly-married and childless were all there, knowing how important this shower was to me and my family.  The youngest attendee was the seven-week old granddaughter of a dear family friend, and that baby represented the fourth generation in the friendship between our two families.  It doesn’t get much more special than that.

Yes, the bride-to-be received many terrific gifts at this shower, and that’s as it should be.  It was her day, and she handled it with grace and style, just as I knew she would.  But as I looked around the room yesterday and took in all the people who were there, the friends and family who showed up to offer their support and to welcome the newest member of our family, and to meet her lovely mother and grandmother, I couldn’t help but realize that my son’s fiance wasn’t the only one who was receiving gifts.

True, the love and support of family and friends is not a gift that I could open.  But it was a gift nonetheless, and one that I will remember and appreciate for a very, very, long time.

Wedding Hopes

I usually write a blog post on Sunday, but since this Sunday happens to be the day after my daughter’s wedding, I decided I’d better write it now, and simply publish it on Sunday. And since I have no idea how my daughter’s wedding will actually go, I decided that I’d write about how I hoped it went instead.

We had a few glitches this past week, but I’m hoping that the wedding ceremony went ahead as planned and that it was both beautiful and meaningful.  I’m also hoping I didn’t do anything to embarrass my daughter, like tripping down the aisle, knocking over the unity candle, or crying during the ceremony.  (All very real possibilities, trust me.) The ceremony is the heart and soul of any wedding, and I hope it was everything my daughter and her finance wanted it to be.

IMG_0612I hope that the wedding party was able to get some nice outdoor photos during the time between the ceremony and the reception, as my daughter absolutely loves photos, and her finance has learned to be very patient about posing for pictures.  (They are already getting started on the give-and-take of married life.)   And I hope that after riding around on the party bus that was taking them from one photo op to another for three hours, that the newlyweds made it to the cocktail hour in time to thank their guests for coming.  We have been both surprised and touched by how many people are planning to come to the wedding, even when it means traveling across the country.  That kind of support is priceless.

I hope that the reception was nice:  the food was good, my husband made it through his welcome speech without having a panic attack, that people enjoyed dancing, etc.  I hope that my daughter and her finance realized how blessed they are to share their wedding day with so many of their friends and family, all together in one big room. It isn’t often in life that you get to have all of the people you love in the same place and at the same time, and that is a big part of what makes weddings so special.

I hope we remembered to thank everyone who helped us pull the wedding together, as there is no way we could have done this without them.  We had friends and family help with the centerpieces and decorations, provide transportation, take photos, provide food, and most importantly, give their advice and support when it was so desperately needed.  We’ll never be able to thank them enough.

I hope that my daughter and her new husband enjoyed their special day, and that it was all they imagined it would be.   Despite all the planning, money and work that goes into the actual wedding day, it is over so very quickly.  But mostly, I hope that my daughter and my new son-in-law have a long and happy life together, and they grow to love and appreciate each other even more than they already do as they journey through life together.  And if they should happen to decide to provide my husband and I with a grandchild or two, that would be a nice touch as well…..