Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Texas, for a wedding, for a reception

Continuing the list of catch-up topics, here is the second:

Having learned from the previous weekend’s bus disaster, I rented a car and drove to my husband’s apartment on Friday afternoon (October 10th). After a short detour to get my new drivers license, we flew down to San Antonio, TX.

Saturday morning we drove about 30 minutes to arrive at the wedding location. The couple was Laura (Jonas’ cousin) and Kendall. Being there was a bit awkward at first (are we dressed properly? will people know who I am? are they going to be ok with Jonas’ husband being there, or upset? what about all the people I won’t know?). But both before and after the wedding things worked out, with my meeting some new family (they’d been told I’d be there) and talking with those I’d met on a previous trip to Texas. Meeting his most-supportive (but still unsupportive) brother Joseph provided many a laugh. Jonas’ parents showed up just as the wedding was about to start, but I met them afterward, with hugs (they’re a hugging family) and talk about how our trip had gone. His aunt Mag introduced us to another pastor, a local college pastor, who had heard all about us and wanted to know us better.

It was interesting to be at a “programmed” wedding, i.e. a wedding where a sermon/homily were given (both by the bride’s family pastor (aunt Mag) and the groom’s family pastor), and where prayers are said, and where the Lord’s Prayer was recited. While this is a subject for another time, both my husband and I mentioned that the previous week’s memorial service and this week’s wedding left us wondering about the Apostle’s Creed and Lord’s Prayer, whether we believed it all nowadays, whether we should be reciting it, etc. Like I said, a whole other post topic.

Afterward we went to the “Crusader’s Hall” (no joke) for the reception. I started remembering names of everyone, and I was in high demand from a lot of the family that wanted to hear what I was studying, how things were going, what I thought of Texas, etc. Leaving the reception, the family was meeting up at the grandparents' place in Austin, TX, so Jonas, Joseph and I drove in a our rental car together. While I contributed about zero to the conversation (I was a little tired of family time at that point), it was interesting hearing Joseph describe his current struggles with deciding on a seminary, whether he should do it, and various religious issues that I used to deal with, but no longer do. It could have made me feel nostalgic, but instead I simply felt a bit wearied and sad for the guy.

Jonas and I, after checking into the hotel, showed up at the assisted-care facility in Austin. I was so glad for them to have found it, as it’s nice, and located quite close to aunt Mag and uncle Charles’ house (maybe a 5 minute drive). What we weren’t so excited about was the appearance of Jonas' older brother. Upon showing up, it always seems that the first five minutes is some sugar-coated version of the man specifically designed to make you feel welcome and comfortable, even if there’s no reason to do so. Luckily for us (and for him?), his sugar-coated attitude begins to drop off and behind the façade a truer version of the man shines through. Someday I will enjoy having a nice discussion with him, perhaps on the Bible, Creationism, and other “pressing matters” of the faith. But that day was not this weekend. Our real reason for seeing him was Jonas’ desire to meet Sam and Rebecca’s new daughter, Anna. While an earful at times, she was quite nice, and with such a head of hair!

We had a quite enjoyable dinner at a local Tex-Mex place (note: my iPhone came in quite handy for searching and finding a place, as the other plan of action was to drive around town until we found something suitable). Jonas occupied the older brother corner of the table, while I occupied the parents’ corner. Jonas got to talk to everyone about his work, having ridden construction equipment recently. It was also fun to see him give a gift of cute baby clothes to Anna as well.

The next morning we went to Aunt Mag’s ELCA Lutheran church service. It was (once again) weird being in a programmed meeting, but I enjoyed singing again. We also enjoyed seeing another gay couple in the audience. Sure, our Quaker meeting has lots of lesbians, but no couples, and there are no other gay couples in our meeting either. His aunt even offered up a prayer/blessing for our marriage and the afternoon reception during the prayer time of the service. It was definitely an “open and affirming community.”

The reception at Mag and Charles’ house was a veritable feast, and so comfortable too! The beef brisket (8 hours on heat, so juicy and tender) and chicken breast with homemade bbq sauce were delectable. We had the opportunity to sit at the same table as the grandparents, the mother of the bride, and then the couple (Laura and Kendall).

Midway through the meal, we were informed by the younger nieces that there would be a performance after the meal in the living room. The performance was amazingly cute, with the three girls each playing pieces on the electronic keyboard, dancing, and then doing a happy birthday song for their mother. Then Jonas’ mother piped up and said “Tuesday is Topher’s birthday. Let’s sing for him!”, which they proceeded to do. It was so embarrassing, but quite nice to be included as well.

The things that stand out about the reception are the following:
1) One of Jonas’ relatives said “welcome to the family!” I forget who it was, when it was exactly said, but it was great to hear it. Jonas has heard it a lot from my family around our wedding time, so it was nice to hear it reciprocated from at least one member of the extended family.
2) Jonas’ parents are definitely the outliers in that side of the family. I began to pity them, seeing how they were unable to truly enjoy themselves at the event; after all, it was devoted to celebrating our marriage, something of which they disapprove. But when they were flipping through and being shown the photos from the wedding and the honeymoon, they just didn’t smile like the rest of the family did. The joy just wasn’t there.
3) The reception was infinitely easier than the one we had directly after our wedding. We didn’t have to send out invitations, buy food, cook food, rent a space, any of that. It was all graciously taken care of by Jonas’ aunt Mag and her husband Charles. My hat is off to them for their incredible hosting.

Finally, at the event I heard many times people remark that they had not met together for at least ten years, if not more. Upon hearing this, I thought of James Dobson. Why, you ask? Because often evangelicals (and Dobson is the foremost of this breed) make the case that gay marriage will weaken marriages and tear families apart. But that’s not what we saw this weekend. Instead, we saw a family coming together after a decade of not having done so, and the occasion that made it happen was the celebration of a gay marriage. Quite unexpected, eh Dobson?

(Day 122)

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