My sister is married. Little Girl has a new stepfather.
I still recall the day my sister called me to update me on the status of her wedding. "Did you hear we've changed the date?" she asked.
"Again?" was my response.
Before I tell you the rest of this conversation, I must provide some history. My sister was planning to get married LAST October, in Gatlinburg. Why Gatlinburg? Fiance's sister was working there and couldn't get a single day off work, so they said. And his sister HAD to be there. So our ENTIRE family, as well as the rest of HIS entire family, all had to go to Gatlinburg for this wedding to accommodate ONE person.
Nobody was terribly happy about it, but no amount of complaining would change their minds. If they wanted to get married in Gatlinburg simply because THEY wanted to get married in Gatlinburg, then that would be one thing. But the only reason they were doing this was for his sister. Personally, I think she could have gotten ONE day off if it was that important that she attend. But that's beside the point.
So in the spring, my sister stressed the importance of everyone finding accommodations. "You need to hurry up and reserve something," she kept saying. "October is prime season in the Smoky Mountains... everything's going to be booked."
So we all made reservations. My aunts and uncles were all renting a big cabin and staying together. I booked a room in a bed and breakfast next door to the wedding chapel for us. Did I mention that these reservations had to be paid for immediately and were non-refundable unless they could be rebooked, and then a 15% rebooking fee was applied?
So not two weeks after everyone has made their nonrefundable reservations, my sister announces that they've changed their minds, and they're going to wait a year to get married. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm glad they decided to wait. Fiance wasn't sure he was ready to be a dad to Little Girl yet and wanted more time to adjust to the idea, and to give her time to adjust to the idea. I'm all for that. But couldn't they have decided this a couple of weeks sooner?
Despite the fact that fall is prime season in the Smokies and we had difficulty making reservations, strangely enough, nobody wanted to rebook our rooms/cabins. Hundreds of dollars going down the drain here; we were not pleased. So many members of my family decided, "We were looking forward to this big family outing down in the Smokies, and we've got these rooms anyway, so let's just go!" I gave my B&B room to my parents and did not attend this family reunion, but many aunts, uncles, and cousins did attend.
They rented a big van and some of them drove down together. Now for some character introduction here -- my grandparents had four children: Phillip (who married Mary), Pattie (mother of my "twin cousin" Amy), my mom, and Jo. On a shopping excursion in the big van were: Jo driving and my mom in the passenger seat; in the middle row were Pattie and Mary; and Amy sat in the back. Reread that and make sure you know who all these people are, because the relationships are important... Jo, Mom, and Pattie are sisters; Mary is married to their brother. All fine Christian people; salt of the earth. Important to know.
Now Jo is the talker of the family, and she had talked SO much during this family reunion weekend that she had lost her voice. She was pulling the van out of a parking garage, and the traffic on the street was very busy. She wanted to go left, and waited and waited and waited for a break in traffic. At last, she decided to put the van in park while she waited. As vehicles will sometimes do when shifting gears, the van jolted forward just slightly.
At this very same moment, a woman pushing a stroller happened to be walking in front of the van. When the van made its little jolt, she looked up angrily and began shouting. "Are you trying to HIT me?" she yelled, and then let forth a stream of profanities. This van full of good Christian women were a bit appalled, but the woman continued on and was soon forgotten.
At last, Jo decided they were never going to be able to turn left, so she decided to turn right. As they drove down the street, they saw the lady pushing her stroller along the sidewalk. Before anyone else in the van even realized what was happening, Jo swerved the van right up by the sidewalk, rolled down my mother's window, leaned across her and starting shaking her finger at the woman and shouting in her hoarse gravelly voice, "I wasn't trying to hit you!" Due to the vocal loss she was experiencing however, not a word she said could have been understood by the woman at the street; all she saw was this crazy woman shaking her finger at her and growling out something unintelligible.
Once more, the woman let loose a string of profanities. Instantly, Pattie leaned forward from behind Jo, also across my mother, and shot that woman the finger. Every woman in the van, herself included, was in absolute shock.
Amy gasped from the back seat and said, "MOM, put that back in its holster!" Pattie said in shock over and over, "I can't believe I just did that. I have never done that before in my life. I swear I have NEVER done anything like that before! I don't know what came over me!"
But the funniest part of the whole story was Mary, who sat stunned, shaking her head back and forth and saying, "Oh my... oh my... they're all JUST LIKE PHILLIP!"
Well, everyone had such a good time at that reunion, and such great laughs over the van incident, that Jo decided we need to do a family trip like that every year. And she planned everything out for us this year, a nice little country ranch a couple hours' drive away, for the weekend AFTER my sister's wedding. A wedding which was now going to be a nice normal wedding, at home, in our church, by our pastor.
Let us now resume the phone conversation with my sister.
"AGAIN?" asked I. "Yes," answered my sister. "We're going to have it at the family reunion."
Lengthy pause while I LAUGH my head off. I seriously did. I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed. But she was serious. They were indeed getting married at the family reunion.
And so they did. A true hillbilly wedding if you ever saw one.
It was an interesting ranch. They had animals there. Exotic animals. I was awakened at 6 am by something growling outside the cabin. I thought it was a bear. No. Nothing so normal as a bear. It was an ostrich.
My uncle went out fishing at the pond. But the fish were all scared away by the lion that kept roaring at him. Now that's a great fish story if I ever heard one.
Goats and sheep roamed all over the place. The little girls had a wonderful time playing with them and naming them all. Nearly the whole family attended. We filled up three large cabins in all.
And this is where my sister got married. Outside the largest cabin. She wore a white "church" dress. Her fiance wore a suit. So did the pastor who drove in from her fiance's church. Little Girl wore a beautiful flower girl dress. And everyone else wore jeans and t-shirts. Because we like to dress up for a wedding, y'know.
His family drove in just for the wedding itself. I had wondered if they were going to attend our family reunion. That would have been just too weird. Some of the men of the family decided to go golfing instead of waiting around for the wedding. Because golfing is more important.
The ceremony lasted all of five minutes. My cousin was supposed to provide the music but he had a panic attack the night before and backed out. So the four little girls in the family did a beautiful job humming "Here Comes the Bride" while the bride walked down the... uh... hill. Nobody thought to bring any rice, so the little girls picked up gravels out of the road and tossed them. Hey, we have to do things up right, after all! We quickly sent the bride and groom away. "Do you all want to come and have lunch with us? We're going to this nice little cafe in town. It will be like a reception."
"Um, no..." we all made excuses. "You see, there's this motorboat ride down the river and if we hurry, we can get there before the last boat leaves..." And off we all rushed to our cars, leaving the bride and groom to dine with HIS family while we went on a boat ride. :)
We're going to have our family reunion there every fall. To celebrate their anniversary. Won't they love that? :) That's what they get for choosing to be married at the family reunion!