The pictures I took at my cousin Tom and his wife, Mary’s younger daughter’s bridal shower reflect most people laughing and enjoying themselves. I did not manage to capture my Aunt Bernie or my cousin Liz in such light hearted mode. Each time I snapped a shot that they were in, their furrowed brows hint of deep discussion. I am always lamenting that we all live so far apart and that our lives are so frenetic and worrisome that on those rare occasions when we connect, we are busy trying hard to share what family news there is. In spite of social media, cell phones and the invasion of high tech into all of our lives, the isolation we have wrought upon ourselves looms all around us. I don’t think any of us could have predicted this outcome.
Yesterday’s festivities were a reminder of how rare these family events have become, with smaller families there are fewer child-related celebrations that were so common and even taken for granted as I was growing up in the 1950s.
I distinctly recall big weddings that started with a morning Mass and ceremony followed by all the invited guests meeting in a church hall for a formal breakfast, then everyone dispersing while the wedding party went to a photography studio for professional photographs. After that the wedding party went to the home of the bride’s parents to relax and wile away the time until it was early evening when they headed back to the church hall and lined up for receiving each guest entering the hall to say hello and congratulate the new couple. Everyone then went into the dining hall for a good old fashioned dinner that started with soup and ended with cake, kolach and coffee. (Even longer ago than the 1950s, the older women in the family prepared and served the meals.) Once the guests finished dinner, the tables and chairs were pushed away from the center of the room, sawdust was scattered around the floor, the polka band readied itself and the remainder of the evening was spent with the guests dancing the hours away while the bride and groom quietly left, changed clothes and headed off on their honeymoon.
Children were underfoot everywhere and little girls stood with their little feet on top of their father’s feet as he danced them around the floor and when the little girls grew into teenagers, their fathers pretended to be able to polka, at least mine did, as I sang “Papa Won’t you dance with me…” and led him around the wooden floor.
The three of us, Bernie, Liz and I, all seniors in what remains of our family, were grateful for an occasion to celebrate the happiness of the youngsters preparing to begin their lives together. We were also glad to see each other and assure ourselves that we are holding together, moving forward, and carrying our loved ones in our hearts.