I didn’t bring you here to socialize…

From Joanie:

Three years ago this week, I was preparing to marry Michael. It seems like it was just yesterday, and at the same time, Feels. Like. Eternity.

I might be thinking that way since he didn’t put dryer sheets in the dryer and I just folded a load of static-y laundry.

Despite these normal domestic irritations (seriously, if not putting a dryer sheet in is the biggest complaint I have, I have an AWESOME marriage!), I’m excited to celebrate three years with Michael next week, and delighted that we get to celebrate with my family this week, and his family next.

Because our families lived so far away, our parents had only met each other briefly after one of my graduate recitals. My mother-in-law was too sick to attend, so she didn’t meet my parents in person until the week before the wedding.

So we decided that we would have a New Year’s dinner, featuring typical New Year’s fare from both families’ cuisine.

This included: pork and sauerkraut (Pennsylvania tradition) and collard greens and black eyed peas (Southern tradition).

In the planning stages of the wedding, my mother had problems with local hotels getting back to her about booking for the wedding. We thought this was especially odd–why on earth would these hotels not want to make money?


It was bad enough that even when I went in person to talk to the reservations people at some of these hotels, that I was told to have my mother call them back.

Infuriated, we decided to say “[expletive deleted] ’em.”

I looked up some of the bed and breakfasts in town–Michael’s parents stayed in one, the Judge Baylor House, every time they visited. My mom looked up a few, and called one called The Cotton Palace. The woman called her back that day, ¬†and told her she would happily kick out the journalists visiting the Bush ranch and allow her to rent out the entire house for the family.

And so that’s what we did: Brittinghams in one bed and breakfast, Bergs in another. Meant we could have some alone “family” time with bride and groom, and also meant that the bride could get into the Cotton Palace’s “endless cookie jar” and have to worry about fitting into the dress right before the wedding.

So for New Year’s, we obtained permission from the Judge Baylor House owners to have a dinner party.

The mix of New Year’s traditional foods actually made a great combination. Michael asked Dad how sauerkraut was made, and he replied, “open can, place directly in trash.”

Not all traditions are favorites, see.

I’m not that big a fan of the collard greens myself, seeing as how it isn’t meat or cookies.

As we started on desserts, and my family and closest friends were enjoying conversation with one another. It was a wonderful evening, which of course prompted me to say:

“I didn’t bring you here so that you could talk and get to know one another. I brought you here for a business meeting.”

This may have been one of my best-timed one liners in family events.

I then handed out a detailed schedule for the wedding day, much of it in perfectly timed increments.

9:30 bridal party to hair salon
10:16 break from hair salon to go to the Dr. Pepper Museum and get Dr. Pepper floats
10:43 depart from hair salon
10:51 arrive at church

And so on.

I made the schedule on these times so that my wonderful family and the wonderful family I married into wouldn’t fall into their typical habits with timeliness: either too early, or irritatingly late. I’m not saying I’m immune to this, I’m just saying I didn’t want to be smiling for pictures forever when I should be greeting wedding guests. I have also been to enough weddings where the reception took a hundred years, and didn’t want to do that with my own. And we were too broke to hire a wedding coordinator, so the list and specifically assigned tasks would have to do.

The family had a good laugh at all these specifics, but they stuck to them on the wedding day itself.

And, after the business meeting was over, we went back to talking and laughing and more dessert than anyone should really eat before fitting into a dress that size. Happy New Year, indeed.

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