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in the opening weekend of 2015 the first of our nephews and nieces got married. since there are lots of nephews and nieces in marty's clan this begins a new chapter for our family--which translates to a host of mass walter-fests in the decades ahead. some might groan at all these familial commitments but marty comes from a wildly spectacular and interesting family that enjoys one another. this affinity leads to lots of smiling, story-sharing, dancing, and catching up so more excuses for these sorts of get-togethers is most welcome, especially from an only child.

while there were lots of great comments and moments from the out-of-town adventure, below i recount a single blip i observed for each member of my family:

ANFER (8)
while driving to the actual ceremony anthony had the following question:

ANTHONY
how long does a wedding take?

MARTY
about an hour.

ANTHONY
an hour!?!

MARTY
hey. you should be happy. lots of people go to church for an hour every week?

(pause)

ANTHONY
i think we should start doing that.

MARTY
what? you want to go to church for an hour every sunday.

ANTHONY
yes.

MARTY
why?

ANTHONY
because then we could build up a tolerance to it.

for what it's worth, i asked some of our weekly church-going nieces and nephews about this math and they said it doesn't work out that way.

MARTY
marty's greatest point of excitement this weekend was that her present was wrapped in actual wedding paper (thanks to bed, bath and beyond's complimentary gift wrapping service). marty's last several wedding gifts have arrived wrapped in kids birthday paper. if challenged (most likely by her mother) you would hear marty give her classic retort "hey-i'm doing the best i can here."

not only did marty nail the wrapping this time around, she also nailed the gift. to start she purchased a few baking pans off the couple's registry. BUT on top of the pans she also taped a printout of our family's personal cookbook which contained all of our family's favorite meals, something marty has been curating for more than a decade now. when a sibling commented on what a thoughtful idea that was, marty recalled how after we got married her mother gave us a campbell's soup cook book and it was terrible, with a marty-esque emphasis on the 'terrible' part. the noteworthy bit of this story is that while marty was sharing this tale, she was sitting smack dab next to her mother, the giver of the terrible cookbook. as people uncomfortably glanced nat's way, marty acknowledged the comment and said, "oh mom. it was a great gesture. just a terrible cookbook." to this, nat waved a dismissive hand as is her way when her children say outlandish or scandalous things in front of her.

multiple nieces and nephews expressed to marty their hope to get the exact same present from her for their wedding. i do love seeing the birth of a well-regarded ritual.

BELLA (13)
in evidence of how genes work, bella was on the dance floor almost from the start. had it not been for some new friends she made, i'm sure she would not have missed a single bass beat. even when the dj played some wonky song no one knew and cleared the dance floor, bella stayed out there and danced with a five year old girl who had taken to following bella around like a smitten pup.

regarding the genes-reference above, bella gets this natural gift for dance from her mother who was out there much of the evening as well looking every bit as youthful and able bodied as the teen set--i think she may have even been teaching them a move or two as you'd here calls of "WHOA! Aunt Marty!" to turn and find her in some gyrating or grinding maneuver.

again, multiple nieces and nephews were heard to say that aunt marty definitely had to come and dance at their wedding, which should dovetail nicely with the cookbook gift.

ALEX (11)
while the girls were dancing, i was catching up with a family relation i hadn't seen in about ten years. while we were talking, he commented that he was glad bella was here as both of his kids were out on the dance floor with her and they'd probably be pouting in the corner otherwise. after this comment he asked about my boys. i said i was a little surprised they weren't out there as they liked dancing too. in scanning around i found them in the corner with some of the other male cousins throwing glowing bracelets high in the air and catching them. then gangnam style came on and i saw both of my boys (and a few cousins) charge to the dance floor. within a few minutes a small circle cleared around alex as he did perfect renditions of the dance moves including, i was later told, a few of the more complicated double-steps that most people fail to hit.

alex remained on the dance floor even after that song finished. a few songs later a boy around alex's age that was connected to the bride's side approached alex and complimented his dancing. alex returned the comment saying he was a good dancer too. a few minutes after that the two boys were sitting knee to knee at an empty dinner table and locked in an intense-looking conversation. they held this engaged pose for almost an hour. when i later asked alex about it, alex said it began when he, alex, asked him if he liked playing minecraft. obviously the boy's answer was yes and they spent a good chunk of the evening talking mods and maps and exchanging tips.

alex has long been deemed the quiet one in our family but marty and i continue to see him, time and again, walk into strange situations and win the room.

TROY
if anyone's tolerance for long obligations in the middle of prime-time weekend hours is low, it is admittedly mine. a few weddings back i decided to reclaim the minutes, recovering some value for them and began spending the time doodling on the programs (as learning to draw is a long-term pursuit of mine). when some of my nieces and nephews saw me passing the time this way they complimented the choice and said they wished they thought of that. i held up my pen and said "you should never be caught without something to write with on your person". they furrowed their brow and said their parents probably wouldn't let them do it. oh the oft-forgotten joys and benefits of being a mortgage-paying adult.

bella was very proud to have snuck the featured picture above of me after the ceremony studying the architectural details more closely. she smugly asked me how it felt to be on the receiving end of the camera for once. i complimented her shot and said if all of them were composed this smartly i wouldn't mind one bit. she sighed that her barb did not dig more deeply.

and below is a doodle i did a few weddings back.



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