Jelly Jelly, full of belly, how does your garden grow?

Basset hound sniffing at the kale in chicken-wire cages

Within the few days since my last post, our flourishing garden is now bursting at the seams. In addition to our radish sprouts, our yellow and green zucchini, beets, beans, green onions, and lettuce have all made appearances. When they say 5-7 days on those seed packets, they really mean it. Any day now, we expect to see the beginnings of our herbs as well. Potatoes are hopefully taking root in our expensive new soil–growing vegetables ain’t cheap, at least in the first year–and our eggplant and strawberry plants are thriving.

One thing we’ve learned about gardening is that fellow aficionados are generous. In the past, even without a garden, we’ve received their overflow, but this year, they’ve donated the lush benefits of their hydroponics operations as well. Heirloom tomatoes grown from seed, kale for our salads and soups, even nutrient-rich soil from our friends’ garden if we need it.

Now we somehow have to protect our plants from pests small and large. First there are the bad insects, which we have banished thus far with the help of good insects, companion planting–even plants have besties–and soil coverage. Our studious kale plants are reading the newspaper as we speak.

Then there are the squirrels, which are cute from afar, but not in our garden. I have nothing against squirrels, but we are overrun with them thanks to a neighbour who generously keeps them in peanuts. They bury their cache in our yard, digging up plants in the process. Then they forget their hiding spots, often foraging in the wrong places. My keen observations suggest that squirrels are not very bright.

Finally, there is the peskiest pest of all: the beloved dog. I’ve sometimes wondered whether Jelly has iron-deficiency anemia because of her affection for greens. When we leave our grocery bags in our entranceway following a big shop, Jelly systematically pokes her head into each one scouting for greens, pillaging any leaf within reach. When we deign to store those greens on the bottom shelf of our fridge, Jelly materializes whenever the fridge opens in search of a healthy snack. Kale seems to be her favourite. Don’t worry, we wash our greens, especially before we serve them to company.

So why did I make the egregious error of placing our two donated kale plants within our easy reach, completely forgetting that Jelly would then have access to them too? (Remember, folks, I’m a novice, barely a preschooler, at this gardening stuff.) After a few drive bys–there goes a leaf faster than you can say, “Stop! Thief!”–and several more surreptitious attempts to score a snack, our generous friends loaned us chicken-wire cages to protect our kale from The Predator. Jelly still eyes the plants longingly but can’t seem to figure out how to knock the cages out of the way. It’s only a matter of time.

If Jelly does manage to break through the kale cages, our friends have promised a larger chicken-wire contraption to contain the dog. That’s a creative gardening solution. They must have gardening Ph.D.’s.

The meaning of Easter through the eyes of a Jewish chocoholic

Small children on an Easter egg hunt

A friend was apologizing to me yesterday for not knowing more about Passover and Jewish customs. “Bah humbug,” I responded, “I probably know even less about your customs.” It’s true. Despite my living in a world where Christianity is the predominant religion, I know very little about the real meaning of Easter.

I have managed to familiarize myself with the important non-religious Easter customs, however. I know that children look forward to a grand Easter egg hunt sometime over the weekend. I also know that these same children would be disappointed if the eggs weren’t made of chocolate. I am glad that I did not know, as a child, that Christian children everywhere were hunting for chocolate Easter eggs and I wasn’t invited. This ignorance is due not only to my Jewish heritage but also to growing up in a predominantly Jewish community.

When I examined the true meaning of the Easter egg hunt more deeply, I realized Jewish children do engage in a similar ritual during the Passover Seder. Early in the Seder, a piece of matzah known as the afikomen is hidden for the children to find after the Seder meal. The excitement of finding the afikomen is not without its purpose: the goal is to keep the wee ones awake through the long celebration. That excitement used to keep me up for hours, I’m sure, although I can’t recall my childhood excitement as an adult.

In case you were wondering, afikomen means “dessert” because it is supposed to be eaten after the meal, when it is found. Matzah for dessert! Yummy! Thankfully, at our recent 30-minute Seder, we somehow forgot to end our meal by eating the afikomen. Rather than matzah for dessert, we insteaded suffered through large slices of Kosher-for-Passover lemon cake and flourless chocolate cake.

Compare our two traditions: Jewish children get to look for the afikomen while their Christian friends search for chocolate Easter eggs. Which custom would you prefer? Need I even ask? The searches may be similar but, in this case, the rewards are vastly dissimilar.

Usually, when I write about being Jewish, I try to convince you that our celebrations and rituals are more fun/better/more exciting than yours. I’m not trying to preach or proselytize; I’m just telling it like I see it. Being Jewish is great. One morning of gifts at Christmas vs. eight days of Hanukkah gifts? I rest my case.

But in this instance, I won’t even try to bring you on board (“board” is a Jewish pun, since matzah and cardboard taste remarkably similar, at least to those who have tasted cardboard). If I had a choice, I’d take the chocolate eggs over the matzah anytime. Matzah notwithstanding, I’m still happy to be Jewish, especially during Hanukkah.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go and put my first-ever batch of hot cross buns in the oven. J. loves hot cross buns, and it is Good Friday. Of course I will not eat any of these leavened baked goods myself because Passover has not yet passed over. Also, I’ve decided to nix the crosses on them because, well, I’m Jewish. I’m substituting Xs instead. Do you think J. will still know what they are?

Homemade batch of hot cross buns

Why are these playoffs different than all other playoffs?

We are on the second day of Passover now, Jews around the world are struggling with GDDTM (that’s “gastric distress due to matzah), and my suffering is just beginning. Tonight the Stanley Cup playoffs kick off and Edmonton Oilers fans province wide will end what they have dubbed the 10-year post-season drought. Try hanging out in the desert for 40 years, Oilers fans, and you’ll appreciate the true meaning of drought.

Tonight, with the help of their key player, Connor McDavid (that’s McJesus to you), the Oilers will start their run at the Cup. Oilers fans will be glued to their television sets to watch the first-round match up, knowing their boys in blue stand a good chance.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames have earned a playoff spot by the skin of their goalie, and their fans do not hold out the same hope. I don’t know hockey, yet I’m anticipating they’ll barely make it through the first round. They’re up against the best in the West and if I were the betting type, I’d be placing my money on the other team. Calgary doesn’t stand a chance. That’s why I have not chosen even one Calgary player in my hockey pool. (Sure, maybe J. chose my players for me since she’s the only true hockey fan in this household, but even if I were choosing for myself, I’d have passed on the Flames.)

The Oilers-Flames rivalry dates back almost as many years as the Jews’ wandering in the desert. That’s why Oilers fans are gloating over their successful season and their playoff prospects, while Flames fans fear the end is near.

Life-sized stuffed Grover in Oilers jersey sitting on couchDid I mention that J. roots for the Oilers and I for the Flames (solely to irritate J., of course)? This won’t be a problem after the first round of playoffs, when I too will be rooting for the one Alberta team still in contention, but tonight I will be outnumbered: J. has invited her Oiler-fan friends to her woman cave to kick off Round 1, and I will be the only one wearing a vibrant red Flames jersey. Even our life-sized Grover is rooting for the Oilers, and Jelly will be doing the same, under coercion. (N.B.: I will not be posting a picture of Jelly in her cute little Oilers t-shirt because I refuse to soften the blow of her disloyalty.)

One of the couples attending has baked a homemade cheesecake adorned with the Oilers’ logo. This same couple made that scrumptious rainbow cheesecake for Pride last September, so I know it will be divine. It looks incredible, don’t you think? However delicious it may be, I’ve been told I don’t get any unless I join the immoral majority. If I really want a slice of cheesecake, I must jump on the blue bandwagon.

I can’t switch allegiances yet, though, because I enjoy being the antagonist. No matter. This cheesecake will not be kosher for Passover, and you know I am too good a Jew to eat of the forbidden fruit. So enjoy your delectable cake but first pass me the matzah, would you? Tonight I must suffer like my ancestors. Bring on the GDDTM.

Cheesecake with Oilers logo on it

The unanticipated responsibilities of the cancer patient

 

Quote: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, do the other trees make fun of it?You may think that having cancer is no big deal for me now. I’m stable, I’m active, and yes, I’m tired, but that’s the life of the leukemic. There are, however, some added responsibilities (burdens?) with this disease that no one warned me about.

Let’s take Sunday yoga, for example. I have been going to the same Sunday class for years, since long before I had cancer. This class was also the first I returned to after my leukemia diagnosis, when I was weak and frail and could barely stand let alone hold tree pose. (In case you were wondering, if a tree falls in yoga class, it takes other trees down with it.) J. attended my first few classes post leukemia to stop my tipping over.

Every single Sunday, I ignore the voice telling me I should stay in bed, however loud it is, and I head to yoga. The class starts and I often wonder how I’m possibly going to stay awake. But I’m there and I do my best and I usually feel better by the end.

Over time, I see many of the same people, and we gravitate toward our spots in the room. If a regular doesn’t show up, her (or occasionally his) spot often remains empty, assuming some unsuspecting newbie doesn’t fill it. Yesterday I was tardy to yoga. I arrived as class started, but not early enough to lay out my mat and settle in. Yes, I was one of those annoying yoga disrupters.

Lately I’ve been walking to the gym with my friend, C., who’s graciously assumed the task of ensuring I do not stray in front of moving vehicles. But C. did not have time to walk yesterday so I headed out late, walking solo. Let’s just say that when I arrive early to yoga, it’s because I’m with C; without her, I fall apart. By the time I arrived yesterday, I was so harried that I needed the calming class, thereby defeating my own purpose. Despite the full class, my spot was empty.

Before I had time to unroll my mat, I learned I had caused an uproar amongst my yogi peers. Despite our texts the day prior, C. feared I was still waiting for her to pick me up. Other friends chimed in. “We were worried about you!” “Thank God you made it!” “Here’s your equipment!” A friend who’s usually tardier than me (but never an annoying latecomer) had even texted to ask where I was. No matter that I was disrupting the whole class of fellow yogis, who were sitting calmly on their mats, ready to go.

Woman on yoga mat in half-moon poseThroughout the class, I thought about the upheaval I’d caused–no wonder I kept falling out of half-moon pose. (I often fall out of half-moon pose. It’s hard.) Talk about the kindness of friends. At the end of class, I again reassured everyone. “I’d never miss Sunday yoga.” I assume my buddies were actually worried I had mysteriously dropped dead. All the more motivation to arrive early to yoga in the future.

I live and breathe anxiety; the last thing I want to do is to add to others’ stress. Or lose my prime spot in class.

Have I been giving Santa a bad rap?

Santa reading letters in front of fireNow that Christmas has come and gone, I question whether I’ve given Santa enough credit for his thankless job. He spends months at the North pole sorting through children’s letters and, with the help of his elves, readying the sleigh for Christmas Eve. Then he has to harness all those temperamental reindeer to the heavy toy-laden sleigh. Finally, he loses a night’s sleep delivering gifts around the world for the meagre payment of milk and cookies.

In the midst of all this, Santa has another arduous task that goes largely unappreciated: his secondment to the local shopping mall. Long lineups of children wait their turn to share their Christmas wishes with Santa. Some wishes are easy to fulfill while others are more of a challenge. I didn’t appreciate how tough this task was until I read an insightful article in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail.

Every Saturday, the Globe has a column entitled “Five Questions with….” The interviewee may be a local important businessperson or philanthropist or artist. Often it’s a familiar name from the recent news. Last Saturday the interviewee was none other than Santa Claus during a break from his pre-Christmas posting at a local mall. Santa’s responses to the interviewer’s questions were surprisingly thoughtful and insightful (read the article here). Among other things, the interviewer asked what kind of people get coal in their stockings (very selfish people, he said).

I was particularly struck by the interviewer’s query about how Santa deals with wishes he can’t grant. According to Santa, there are many such wishes. Children have asked Santa whether he can bring a parent home from somewhere afar for Christmas (“I don’t traffic in people,” he replied). One child asked whether Santa could cure diabetes (beyond his skill level, he acknowledged).

Santa noted that increasingly, rather than asking for tangible gifts, children are asking him whether he can make someone they care about happy. He tells these children that sadly he cannot. As he put it, we are responsible for our own feelings; no one can make someone else happy. Whoa, Santa, where did you learn that?

I spent years training to become a psychologist yet I still often have to remind myself of this ultimate truth. If someone I know is having a bad day, often I want to jump in there and cheer that person up. Consider, for example, the odd occasion that J. wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. (I am much more likely to wake up on the that side than she is, by the way; J. awakens singing most days, which is also a problem since I am not a morning person.) On J.’s bad days, I spend hours thinking of ways to cheer her up. Let’s just say it never works.

I feel helpless knowing someone I love is struggling and I can’t do anything to make that person feel better. I can listen and be of support, but I can’t change anyone’s mood but my own. Thanks for reminding me of this, Santa. I may be Jewish, but I appreciate your wisdom.

Now go get some rest. You’ve earned it.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Chrismukkah

Blue and gold Hanukkah sweaterPeople who don’t celebrate Hanukkah sometimes don’t appreciate that this holiday is but a drop in the bucket of Jewish festivals. We’re not commemorating the birth of a saviour or anything momentous like that. It’s more of a David-and-Goliath story, where the Maccabees play the underdog who prevails.

Hanukkah traditions also differ greatly from those of Christmas. There is no such thing as a Hanukkah bush and no gifts arrive via the chimney. We don’t hang Hanukkah wreaths (although an image search reveals a frightening number of them) and Hanukkah stockings don’t hang from the mantle. The ugly Hanukkah sweater is harder to find. We’re even blue and white to your red and green.

Box for a Hanukkah gingerbread houseI’ll admit we Jews bake our share of menorah-shaped sugar cookies this time of year, but few if any gingerbread. I was so flabbergasted a few weeks back when I spied a Hanukkah gingerbread house that I took a picture and sent it to all my Jewish friends. Building a gingerbread house is a Christmas tradition, and not one I’ve envied since childhood.

Our world is consumed by Christmas each year, whether we celebrate or not. To be fair, J. and I do participate in our unreligious way since J. is not Jewish. In December, a few singing Snoopys dressed in Christmas garb magically appear around the house, as well as our beloved Charlie Brown Christmas tree. J. hangs Christmas lights on our house barring a December cold spell. Then she adorns our wholly unChristmassy Christmas tree with a variety of dog ornaments. And of course there’s the annual television viewing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Hanukkah wreathBecause the Jewish calendar differs from the usual, the dates of Jewish holidays vary from year to year. This year, Hanukkah happens to start on Christmas Eve and end on New Year’s Day. A true confluence of celebrations! So the question arises: how do we celebrate both holidays at the same time? J. graciously decided that Hanukkah would take precedence this year.

On Christmas Eve, after J. lights up our doggy Christmas tree, we will light the first candle on the menorah. I will sing the blessings while J. hums along. (She’s not yet fluent in Hebrew.) Then we will join dear friends for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. We will be bringing home-baked challah and a Middle Eastern salad because, well, I’m Jewish.

On Christmas Day, Hanukkah will take centre stage. We’ve planned a small Jewish feast for two in keeping with our Hanukkah celebration. We’re subbing Mediterranean-spiced turkey-zucchini meatballs for roast turkey, latkes for mashed potatoes, and apple sauce for that disgusting canned gelatinous cranberry jelly.

And the presents? Rather than opening all our little gifts in no time on Christmas morning, we will each open one small gift every evening for eight days as we light the menorah, as per the Hanukkah tradition. This way we will extend our celebration. Hanukkah, the holiday that never ends.

I wish you all a happy holiday season. Thanks for following along (tolerating my drivel?) this past year.

P.S. If I’m quieter than usual next week, I may be busy crafting my annual post on New Year’s resolutions. Stay tuned.

Any good cake has icing

Road sign reads: No work ahead.Now that I know I have the potential to live for a few years longer, you’d think I’d stop thinking about death. No, not so much. Lately I’ve been wondering whether, by the time I actually die, however many years from now, people will be so bored of hearing about my wimpy leukemia that no one will show up for my sendoff. Oh well, I can’t control who comes to my final good bye, if anyone. I’ll just have to live die with that.

Oddly enough, this train of thought was sparked by J.’s two grand retirement parties this week, to which I was graciously invited. Her workplace gathering was standing-room only (so what if there were no chairs?). J.’s not dying–far from it–but today when she packs up her desk, including her slinky weiner dog, she’ll be leaving a number of people who are going to miss her terribly, from what I heard and from the sentiments on the many cards she received. At the workplace party, her colleagues spoke glowingly about her contributions to the workplace, about how much she’s done to create a sense of community and mutual support, and about her effective work as a mentor and leader.

Retirement is a time for celebration (and cake, with icing–small piece for me, thanks), while it is also a time of losses, and I’m not referring to her paycheque here. J. will miss her colleagues as much as they will miss her. She was overcome with emotion as she spoke to her group of the great work they have done and how much they have meant to her. J.’s feelings run deep, but she shares her tears sparingly. I imagine her tears took everyone, maybe even J., by surprise.

As an outside observer, I was also struck by the spirit of fun amongst her workmates. Group picture in yoga poses anyone? These relationships go beyond those of colleagues; these folks are kind, supportive people who are there for one another when the chips are down. And at times during her tenure in this position, her chips have indeed been down. I recall a mysterious bottle of scotch awaiting her on her desk the day following our awful break in, to replace the bottle that was pilfered.

By supporting J., her colleagues’ kindness has extended to me as well. J.’s workmates have sent many a comforting text our way while we’ve been in the ER waiting to see how sick I really am. They’ve also been understanding when she’s had to reschedule meetings or reassign duties in her absence.

Finally, there’s the icing, J.’s boss, who prefers not to be called her boss, so let’s call her Ms. Boss, shall we? Ms. Boss has given J. the leeway to get her work done while caring for me. Thus J. has stayed in close contact from doctors’ offices and hospital rooms. Ms. Boss has encouraged J. to be with me through every medical crisis. She has shown tremendous kindness to J., and through J. to me, over their time together.

So enjoy your retirement, J. You deserve it. But don’t forget there are losses for me, too. I’ll have to start keeping the house tidy during the day, for example. That may indeed kill me.

Quote: The less routine the more life, by Amos Bronson Alcott

 

Vacation musings from a tired traveller

Grover in eaves of small model of St. Stephen's church in ViennaThe great thing about vacations is that I learn so many new things. Here are but a few of my recent insights for you to consider:

1) Daylight savings time occurs in Europe just like it does in North America, but not necessarily on the same day. Hence the unanticipated time for writing this morning.

2) Although Vienna is gorgeous and overwhelming, I am more of a Prague person than a Vienna person. Maybe it’s that I don’t like the “Wiener” moniker.

3) I do not like Sacher torte, which confirms my ancestry is not Austrian.

4) There is a haunting absence of Jews, but not Jewish history, in these parts.

Grover looks into window at chocolate shop in AustriaThere comes a time in every vacation when I realize that: a) I’m not going to accomplish many of the experiences I had planned for; and, b) I’m not going to eat many of the traditional foods I had on my list.

Turns out a vacation is a microcosm of life. We try to cram so many things in to the time we have, friendships and families and vacations and a career and maybe even the odd hobby or passion, but at some point we realize we have dreams that we’re not going to be able to realize. I, for example, will never become a master baker despite years of research and trial and even more error.

There are so many ways someone can arrive at this place. Consider injury or the simple fact of aging. As joints get creaky, another triathlon may be out, for example. As kids come on the scene, a Himalayan trek may become significantly more challenging.

Grover in Austrian National LibraryAnd then, to bring it all back to me, as I am prone to doing, I’ve come to realize that, among other things, fatigue would stop me from realizing many of the goals I had set for myself both professionally and personally. My health would impede my seeing plays or going to concerts, it would kibosh my energy for socializing, and it would sometimes make getting through the day a challenge.

But this change in life course hasn’t been all bad. Sometimes I’ve been pleasantly surprised, not simply because I’m still alive, but because I’ve accomplished some unexpected things since I’ve been sick. I’ve started writing for fun rather than work and discovered a new passion.

I’ve made new friends, enriching my life, which amazes me. What kind of odd, i.e., crazy, person out there would want to befriend someone who may die? There are a few willing to take that risk, to my surprise and delight.

This last one’s been more challenging, but I’m finally learning to fill my newfound time since there’s a lot of that, while still seeing clients if the opportunity arises. Every smidgen of work brings me joy these days.

And there’s even something exciting on the horizon: Jelly and I will soon be visiting a setting where she’ll provide comfort to people in need. Thankfully, she’s usually better behaved in a new setting than a familiar one. By the time she has learned the visiting routine, her pulling me down the hall howling with excitement at the nursing home, or hospital, or wherever we’re placed, will hopefully be welcomed and appreciated.

 

Ways to make a grown woman, and the occasional man, cry

Picture of Annie's Anemic Leukemics team in costume with lanterns and bannerLast night was the special Light the Night Walk. Annie’s Anemic Leukemics were 20 strong, with many other virtual supporters there in spirit. I only cried 4 times, excluding the many times I choked up seeing a little tyke with leukemia.

Participants sported three different coloured lanterns: gold for those walking in memory of someone; red for those walking in support of a survivor; and white for survivors. (I’d say the white complemented my anemic complexion.) As a white lanterned gal, I feel like a guest of honour at this event, standing amidst so many others who are fighting a similar fight. (Despite my steadfast anonymity, I’ve now given you a 50/50 chance of determining who I am in the picture above.)

The tears started before we even got out of the gate as my amazing team assembled for a picture, all adorned in the ridiculous clown attire J. had selected to distinguish us. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by the incredible community of support I had around me.

We white lanterners were called on stage at one point during the pre-walk inspirational speeches. People moved aside, like the parting of the Red Sea, to allow us to approach the stage. Being surrounded by fellow survivors looking out onto a crowd of supporters was incredible. Of course I had to cry then, a reaction which may have seemed incongruent with my clown attire.

But, ever the clown (child?) I am, as we were leaving, I faced the men around me and said: “Why do you guys always leave it to the women to do the crying?” A kind fellow nearby smiled and responded: “Oh, I was crying a minute ago too.” Then he gave me a side hug (which, by the way, is nothing like a Trump hug), and we went our separate ways. Thank you, Mr. Cancerous, for that moment of connection.

Then we walked on that beautiful night, with a steady stream of multicoloured lanterns ahead and behind us. The darker it got, the more spectacular the sight. Three kilometres later, we approached our starting point.

As a white lanterner, each year I have received a white rose as I’ve neared the finish, usually by a kind volunteer. This year they upped their game: a bevy of firefighters were there to distribute those roses. I squealed with delight at the sight of all those handsome men in uniform (no women, sadly), like any 5-year-old child would, and accepted my rose with gratitude and awe. A few tears snuck out when the one who gave me my rose said: “Keep up the good fight.” You would have cried too, trust me.

Oh, maybe I had a fifth occasion for tears, but it was earlier today at Jelly’s PALS behavioural assessment. I may be mistaken, but I believe Jelly passed all of the challenging stations, including the one that involved treats strewn on the ground. (Thank goodness there weren’t any counters.) Jelly was a star and, at the end, she received her official PALS bandana. I couldn’t be prouder of my little girl. Watch for us soon at a hospital or retirement home near you.

Jelly in the back of the car in her blue PALS bandana

 

The times they are a-changin’, and for the better.

Last weekend we attended a beautiful wedding. People had travelled from far and wide to participate in the celebration. What a privilege to witness this union between two very special people.

The ceremony took place in a stunning provincial park with a mountain backdrop. The day’s downpour let up just long enough for the outdoor knot tying. Because J. has known the bride for many years, she was honoured to act as officiant, which made the ceremony special for the couple and for her. She teared up upon seeing the couple escorted down the aisle by parents, everyone beaming with joy. The spouses wrote their own vows, which were funny and moving and loving. Of course I cried, but I wasn’t the only one. There were happy tears all around.

The couple, with the support of family and friends, had served as their own wedding planners, and they’d thought of everything. Umbrellas in case it rained, home-crafted hand fans in case it was too warm, and stunning flower arrangements.

The celebration followed in a lodge with floor-to-ceiling views of the mountains. The meal was mouthwatering, the desserts divine, and the penguin cake pops scrumptious. As if that weren’t enough, all guests received mini mason jars filled with Jelly Bellies. You know how much I LOVE Jelly Bellies.

Family and friends delivered moving after-dinner speeches, each one touching and heart felt. Everyone seemed so deeply happy for these two. It was evident that they had already been embraced wholeheartedly by their new extended families, who gushed with pride.

Did I neglect to mention that there were two brides? Yes, that’s right, two brides dressed in long white gowns, two brides throwing one bouquet together at the reception–not that well, I might add, for two accomplished fastpitch players–and two brides dancing their first dance as a married couple.

I’ve never been to a gay wedding before, except our mini version in our living room, sans dresses or speeches or Jelly Bellies. But why focus on the “gay” part, unless you mean “joyful”? Theirs was a wedding between two women who love and respect one another and want to spend the rest of their lives together. One bride said she’d never envisioned marriage in her future, and yet here she was. I’d say that’s reason for celebration.

This couple also intends to uphold many conventional marriage traditions. One wife will take the other’s last name, and they are marrying prior to starting a family. Together these women will make wonderful parents. Their progeny will grow up in a loving household with two doting mommies, and no doubt they will thrive, daddy or no daddy.

There was one small glitch for the happy couple, however. The morning of the wedding, one bride-to-be had to convince hotel staff that, although a bride in her hotel room had indeed already eaten breakfast, she had not yet because she was the other bride. It’s a story she’ll tell her grandchildren some day.

I was struck by the supportiveness of everyone in attendance, straight and gay, single and coupled, young and old. I trust that every guest was genuinely thrilled for the couple. Don’t these women deserve the same experience of marriage and family as anyone else? If you disagree, you may miss out on a darn good party someday.

Two brides at reception, sitting at head table both with Mrs. signs in front of them.