Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010: Our visit in the U.S., part three: the wedding

I'm the oldest of five, left home in 1989 to spend a year in Mexico, lived with my parents again for a year while going to college and working, then moved to Germany in 1991 "for a year or two." Under NO circumstances was I staying for any longer, and I was most certainly NOT getting involved with a German. Spanish was my language and Latin America was what I loved, and German was the only class that I did badly in during my two semesters of college! Although my husband I didn't start dating until two years after I arrived in Germany, we actually met within the first couple of months. We got married a year later, and it was over 17 years that I ended up living in Germany. None of that is relevant to the rest of this post, I just liked writing it! :-)

My next sibling, Scott, is two years younger than I am. He and Kristy got married when they were 19 and 18 (it was actually only a month before Scott's 20th birthday, but 19 sounds more dramatic) and just celebrated their 17th anniversary. Their sons, Kyle and Alex, are 13 and 12. Scott is in the Air Force and they live in Florida, finally staying in one place for awhile. They started homeschooling temporarily when unhappy with the school at one location, and have just kept on, loving it, for about six years now, I think. Kyle plans to go to school starting with eighth grade, Alex at this point plans to homeschool all the way through.

The fourth sibling, Erin, is eight years younger than I am, is a clarinetist, and lives in San Bruno (near San Francisco), in the house my dad grew up in, and the youngest, Ruth, 11 years younger than I, is a pharmaseutical (spelling?!?!) assistant and she and her boyfriend, Justin, live in the house my mother grew up in, in Grass Valley.

Shawn is the one that this post is supposed to be about. He's five years younger than I am and has traveled much, much more than I have, although he's only ever lived in the U.S., mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Washington D.C. area, now in D.C. When he announced on Facebook a couple of months ago that he was engaged to Lindsey (whom Katie and I met in May 2008 when we were here on a good-bye visit to my paternal grandmother, three months before she died), I wrote back that if he wanted us at the wedding, it would need to happen in California and between December 28th and January 18th! Apparently, they'd been thinking more of a summer wedding, definitely wanting it outside and with all sorts of outside activities, but they re-worked their plans for us, for which we were very grateful. They have friends all over the world as it is, so many of their guests were going to have to travel no matter what.

The wedding ceremony itself was scheduled for 5:00 p.m., outside, with a gorgeous view of San Francisco and the sunset. The weather cooperated, although it was rather cold, and the ceremony, officiated by my mother, was quite short. There were no attendants, but Marie and Kyle carried in jars of sand and Lukas carried in a bowl, into which Shawn and Lindsey poured the sand, and another little girl carried in the rings on a pillow. Then we all went inside for the party. The speeches were good, there was lots of food, and it was great seeing so many relatives, such as one aunt whom I did see in May 2008, but the last time before that was my own wedding, and her husband, whom I hadn't seen since our wedding. There was also dancing, and the music was good and not too loud! (Katie was really nervous when she heard that we were going to a wedding at all, as the last wedding we went to had horribly loud music and half the people were smoking. We all left coughing and with headaches. So Katie was immensely relieved that Uncle Shawn's wedding wasn't like that.)

At some point there was a variety show, something that the Americans apparently thought a bit strange, as hardly anyone signed up for it, but to Germans was the absolutely normal wedding reception. :-) Shawn and Lindsey started by making all the participants dance across the stage to the Muppet theme song (if we'd known that was coming, probably even fewer people would have signed up...), then the two of them sang a song together. One little girl (I think a niece of Lindsey's) sang "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer", an aunt of Lindsey's did a stand-up comedy skit, and another little girl at the very end sang another song. Marie played the violin together with my sister Erin and Erin's partner Ginny, both on clarinets, and Joern and I narrated "Die Hocheitskuetsche", "The wedding carriage", a very commonly done skit at weddings in Germay. The actors were the bride and groom (princess and prince), the groom's best friend (coachman), the parents (the four wheels), the siblings (horses), the children (forest), and the audience (the forest path). Most people seemed to enjoy it--at the very least, there was a LOT of laughter--but my dad did make the comment at the end that he could understand why we got married in the U.S.! (Actually, the one thing I DID miss at our wedding was the typical German reception...)

Anyway, the rest was basically what a usual New Year's Eve party always was when I was growing up: ice cream sundaes, lots of junk food, lots of noise, and lots of board games. :-) Then at midnight, lots of noise, and being over San Francisco, we even got to watch a far-away fireworks display. Then it was clean-up and drive back to the hotel, where we collapsed into bed. Katie and Helen had both fallen asleep during the evening, but the other three children made it all the way through. Helen did wake up in time for midnight, meaning that Katie is the only one of all of my children to have ever slept through midnight on New Year's Eve.

The next day started with a breakfast buffet, then a hike to Shawn and Lindsey's "first kiss spot" in Tilden Park, then bowling, and then dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I can't say I enjoyed the bowling much--at least there wasn't any smoke (my last time bowling was over five years ago, in Germany, and one could hardly see through the smoke, and the time before that, which was also my first time ever, was well over 20 years ago, when they still smoked in public places in the U.S., too), but it was quite dark and the music was so loud that one had to shout to be heard, so there wasn't much conversation. Added to which, I think I got the lowest score of the 30 or so people that were there. 35 on my first game, and on the second game, which started with a strike on the first frame and ended with a spare on the final frame, had a total of 40 points. I kind of doubt that anyone else could get that low if they tried.

During breakfast one of my aunts was talking about lending us her car, which seats seven, for a couple of days, and the negotiations ended with her taking my mom's car back to Ukiah with her, and we left with her van for the next two weeks! My parents have two cars and a truck, and my youngest sister

January 2nd the festivities continued. After breakfast we went to an indoor climbing gym, where Shawn and Lindsey had been members when they lived on the West Coast, and everyone who wanted to got a chance at climbing. I didn't climb, but the children did, and there was a very nice (and quiet!!) area for sitting and watching and chatting with the other people who weren't climbing. From there we headed into San Francisco, where we had lunch on our own and then met up again with the group for a high-tech scavenger hunt. Shawn is a conflict resolutionist and travels around giving seminars, etc., and this was a version of one of the programs he leads. We were over 30 people and divided into 6 groups. Jacob was our captain and when he saw the GPS thing-a-ma-jig and saw that it was exactly the same one that he's familiar with from our friend Richard, who taught Marie and Jacob sailing last summer and has been having Jacob work with him on his new boat all autumn, he immediately took over that. Lindsey's father, Tim, and I, as the only adult native speakers of English on the team, worked on the word puzzles while we walked, and Magdalena from Switzerland took care of the camera. Her husband and Joern (who had Helen in the Ergo carrier) helped look for photo challenges and corralled the niece of Lindsey's who was along, as well as Katie, who sometime during the afternoon deftected from another team and joined ours. We came in second place, the only area we did really badly in was the quotations, getting only four out of 10 right, and two of those were guessed.

Then we headed back to Berkeley, to the home of some friends of Lindsey's, who had taken home the left-over food from the wedding. We saw a slide-show of photos from the wedding, ate our fill and then some for dinner, and finally drove home. I managed almost an hour, but was definitely falling asleep, so switched with Joern, who drove the rest of the way, another hour. As on just about every single day of our trip so far, the evening ended with us carrying sleeping children to bed and then collapsing into bed ourselves.

So that was my brother's three-day wedding! The next day Joern, my mom, the two little girls, and I went to church in Colfax, where I grew up. I didn't get to go there my last couple of visits to the U.S., as my mother is now a pastor in King's Beach (on Lake Tahoe), but she had taken all three Sundays that we're here off of work. There were two people I really wanted to see, and both of them were there: Myrtle, the widow of the pastor there from when I was 6 until I was 13, and who must be somewhere between 70 and 100, but hasn't changed in the slightest since I can remember; and "Mrs. Murphy", who has been in charge of the Sunday School forever and ever. She taught Sunday School that day, too, and Katie made up one-third of the whole Sunday School. All of the other people I had known there from my childhood have either died (most of them--my parents were the youngest adults in the church for 20 years) or moved.

And the next day we headed for Disneyland, which will be a separate post, and probably on another day, as I'm now going to play a game with Jacob and Lukas.

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