It’s really not about you.

As the official start of “wedding season” approaches, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share a few thoughts I’ve been carrying around since the Mister and I tied the knot almost four years ago.

(Four years?? Wait a minute, that can’t be right…)

I saw this article on Facebook today and thought it hit the nail on the head. I wish we had registered for fun things we would actually use. I wish my dress had had a Scarlett O’Hara-esque skirt. I wish we had done photos together BEFORE the wedding, tradition or not, so that the Mister and I could have spent the majority of our day together instead of him spending it in a bathroom while I walked from place to place.

Those things are important, and I would suggest them to anyone I know who’s getting married, but there is one more important thing that still nags me to this day.

I don’t know who was there.

Wait… what? What do you mean? How could you not know who was there?

I mean, I was so wrapped up in May 19th being MY day – a day where the Mister and I could do whatever we wanted and ONLY what we wanted and ONLY with the people we thought mattered the most.

We were selfish. (And by “we” I mainly mean myself.) Looking back I can see that now, and it is definitely my biggest regret.

We have all kinds of pictures with our family and our wedding party, but we don’t have any photos with our guests. Those people who weren’t chosen to stand up with us, but who made the trip to see us anyway – sometimes from 12+ hours away.

Three groups still haunt me today.

An old high school friend and her sister that I hadn’t seen in more than six years came. I didn’t expect them to care that much, but they came all the way from Knoxville to see me get married. They pulled me aside and congratulated me and probably wanted a picture, but I greeted them quickly and moved on. I haven’t seen them since and don’t expect to ever see them again. I could have gotten a picture.

A group of the Mister’s friends from the university judging team where there too. They stood in a huddle in the lobby for most of the reception, waiting to catch us for a photo. I was so busy hurrying back and forth, checking off the list of must-do things, that I didn’t even realize that’s what they wanted. We have pictures of the whole group at other weddings, but not at ours. I had other things to do.

Third, and worst, I feel, were an aunt and uncle who traveled from out-of-state to be there. I saw them waiting in the hall as we left for photos and, to be honest, I didn’t recognize them at first. We don’t see that branch of the family much, so I didn’t know who they were until I had passed by. I waved when they did, but I didn’t stop. I figured they would wait until we returned. After all, it was all about us.

I didn’t know they had started their 12+ hour drive in the middle of the night, arrived just in time for the ceremony and were leaving as soon as I passed them to head home. They weren’t there when we came back from taking photos. I haven’t seen them since. All I can think about when that moment passes through my mind is that they made a mind-numbing 12-hour drive through the mountains, and I didn’t even stop to acknowledge them. I don’t know that that horrible feeling will ever go away.

So I say all of that to say this to all the brides and grooms and hopefuls out there: your wedding day is not really about you.

Let me say that again.

Your wedding day is not really about you.

Sure, it’s the day you start a new life joined to your husband or wife, and it’s a huge commitment. You should put effort into making the festivities reflect who you are and who your spouse is and who you will be together. But really, when it comes down to it, you will be just as married at the end of the day as you would have been if you’d gone to the county courthouse in your pajamas.

What it’s really about is the people who love you and who have made an effort to be there and witness such a happy occasion in your life. It’s about those people who have had your wedding invitation on the refrigerator for months; those people who spent weeks making handmade gifts that you’ll probably never use, but that you appreciate anyway; it’s about the people who fill all those delicate matchstick chairs and sit in the uncomfortable sunshine to see your smiling face and hear your “I do’s.”

Because without them, you would be standing in an empty room (probably not even decorated, since I’m sure they helped with that too).

So don’t get wrapped up in the check list. Stop to take pictures with the people who are there. Make them part of the memory and let them share in your joy. They want pictures to remember the day you got married just as much as you do. Don’t take that away from them.

Thank them, not just for coming but for being a presence in your lives. Even if you don’t know all the guests from your spouse’s side of the hall – take pictures with them too. They might not be important to you, but you are important to them or else they wouldn’t be there.

If you look through your guestbook years down the road and didn’t even know most of those people were there, you did something wrong.

But if the cake cutting was a little off schedule, and maybe you didn’t throw the garter or blow the bubbles, but you have an album full of photos with the people who loved you most on the happiest day of your life, that is something you won’t ever regret.

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Honey, we’re being followed.

So last Friday I left home for a weekend with the Mister, who is finishing up an internship out of state. I had chosen my route from several possible alternatives because it would take me through a string of small southern towns, hopefully keeping me alert after a long day and offering many places to stop and eat.

About two hours into a four-hour drive, I found myself behind a white minivan with oddly flashing lights inside. At first, I thought I was looking through their windshield and seeing something up ahead, but as the silhouettes literally danced across the window I realized – I was watching a movie!

I started thinking hard. A movie screen in the back of a minivan – probably for kids, probably by Disney. I’ve seen every classic Disney movie ever made, so surely I can figure this out.

At that moment, a large character of some sort appeared and seemed to be tossing a smaller item into the air. A vaguely orange character with a mop of dark hair laughed. And I shouted out loud to my empty car.

It’s Baloo! This is the Jungle Book! They’re singing the Bear Necessities!

And so, of course, was I. At the top of my lungs. And the people in the minivan had no idea I was enjoying their trip so much. I had several chances to pass, but decided to stay behind and watch the show.

I actually followed the van all the way to Selmer, where they pulled into a McDonalds with an indoor play place – presumably to appease the Jungle Book-watchers – just as Baloo and Mowgli were escaping the monkeys.

I was sad to see them go.

For half a second I considered pulling in after them and ordering a milkshake and some fries, possibly telling them they had brightened my long trip, but I figured that would be very creepy and kept driving.

I got through three states in the dark without a GPS and with only vague directions without any problems at all, but of course got all the way to the town I wanted and got lost. I had to call the hotel to figure out where I was and give me directions. Of course. That’s only a natural thing to happen to me.

But at least I had all the bear necessities. 🙂

The dangers of unmapped chocolates

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person. In fact, I’m really not a big gift/special day person at all. It’s just not the “love language” I speak.

But, occasionally, I will find one of those iconic heart-shaped boxes on my desk or kitchen table, and I always regard it with intense suspicion. I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend on the part of chocolate makers to fail to include one of those little “maps” that identify each piece by shape and size and reveal its contents.

Without the map, you’re wandering blind in a minefield of strange nuts and coconut bombs that might go off at any moment! One false taste and BOOM!! there you go, gagging all the way to the water fountain and hoping your taste buds will have mercy on your brain and die quickly.

I always feel like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series: quietly scrutinizing my box of assorted treats, trying to use logic to determine which ones might have horrors within. Then, almost sure I’ve chosen “a nice toffy,” I bite into an unassuming chocolate to find – UGH!! almonds!

I’ve learned by now the flat ones are just chocolate with nothing inside. Pieces with bumps on top likely contain nuts – but not always. Oval-shaped puffy pieces could contain chocolate mousse or fruit cremes… but they could also contain coconut… which is even worse than nuts. It’s like starting Jenga and waiting for the last pieces to fall.

Some people enjoy this uncertainty; I find it stressful and unhappy. If I wanted to play Russian roulette with my taste buds I would buy jelly doughnuts and not check the color first.

What eventually happens is that I break open every piece to find the ones I want and then try to pass the busted ones to the Mister or anyone else who might want them, which I understand isn’t incredibly appetizing.

So this is an open plea to chocolate-makers everywhere: PLEASE! For the love of fruit cremes, include a diagram in every box! Not just the fancy ones for rich ladies, but the little samplers for us common folk too.

Maybe then I could open an unassuming box of chocolates without feeling like I’m playing “Operation” and waiting for the buzzer to go off.

**Am I the only one who does this?**

 

SURPRISE!

Ok, so I lasted two months. I’ve been finding out recently that so many more people cared about my little corner of the Internet and were disappointed to see it go than I realized, so I’ve returned by popular demand.

(I’ll wait while you finish your happy dance.)

Today’s edition is called “We Hate Snow because Students are Babies.” These comments are real questions and comments we’ve received about why school is in session with less than an inch of dry powder on the ground. I’ve curated a few of my favorites and given the unofficial response that we’re not allowed to actually give but really wish we could.

“So what are you guys going to do about the weather because it’s supposed to continue until 11” (via Facebook)

Actually, we were just about to phone God and let Him know our students are being terribly inconvenienced by His choice of forecast for today and demand an immediate reversal of the decision.

“Who do I send my wrecker bill to?” (called in to the information help line)

…Your insurance company…? You have the power of free will. Yes, classes are in session and there might be a penalty if you don’t attend, but you could still choose not to attend if you’re that horrible of a driver.

(via website suggestion link) “Suggestion: Cancel classes when roads are obviously to bad for commuters to make it to the school”

I got here from the other side of town. My coworker got here from Union City. A hundred other employees got here from various parts of the region. Do you think your future boss is going to close the office for every single snowflake?

(from our last snow, campus closed) “Thanks for cancelling classes! Now is the gym open or nah…”

Let’s see here… the roads are too slick for you to get to class and we didn’t value your life enough to close campus earlier so you could turn off your alarm clock… but you want to come to the gym?

(from last snow, next day, campus open) “We are not penguins ! because the sidewalks in campus is unsafe, I saw black ice in parking lot”

First of all, you don’t see black ice. That’s the whole definition of black ice. Secondly, if the sidewalk is slick, walk in the grass for better traction. And third, you obviously need to attend your English class today, regardless of the weather.

Universities have historically rarely cancelled classes or closed offices. This is a fairly recent phenomenon, driven largely by an unwillingness to deal with “dissatisfied customers.” In fact, this institution hadn’t cancelled classes in more than a decade until my sophomore year when we legitimately had three inches of ice on every surface. Ever since then, it’s been a routine thing to close campus at the mere threat of frozen precipitation.

It’s wasted a lot of class hours, taxpayer dollars and student tuition money. You’ve paid thousands of dollars to be here, I would think you would want to be here getting your money’s worth unless it was just dangerously impossible.

Maybe if we figured up how much an unnecessary snow day costs each student…

White flakes falling from the sky is called snow. It’s not an automatic emergency situation. There is less than an inch on the ground and it’s dry and fluffy. Don’t speed and slam on your brakes and you’ll be fine.

Put on your big boy or girl underwear and learn to be an adult. College will end eventually and then you’ll be in for a shock by what’s actually expected of you.