Thursday, November 27, 1969
It was Thanksgiving, and the wedding count-down stood at 2 days. We all had much to be thankful for, starting with knowing we didn’t have to cook a big turkey dinner. Our whole bunch had been invited to the home of Helen Carlstone, a lifelong friend of both Mom’s and Aunt Joyce’s.
We knew we would fill her Chicago home to capacity, but that didn’t bother her. “We’ll make it work!” she said. So as she and her family focused on preparing a mid-afternoon, multi-course meal, the rest of us turned back to wedding stuff.
Aunt Joyce took on the bridesmaids’ headpieces. Though she didn’t have much to work with, she created wide, pink velvet ribbons the girls could drape over their heads with a knot in the middle. She had 7 of them finished in no time, and they would be simple enough to work with any hairdo. (Left: Bridesmaid Julie models.)
Nate appeared at noon, excited that he’d gotten a look at our wedding bands during his overnight stay with his family. His father, owner of a jewelry store, had ordered them for us, passing along a nice discount. “I can’t wait till we have them on,” Nate whispered.
After an elegant Thanksgiving dinner, we all pushed back from the table(s) completely satisfied. Helen had warmly welcomed Nate’s parents and brother to her dinner, too, after which we all readied to attend the Moody Church Thanksgiving concert.
But first, we “kids” headed to the basement to do battle with the Carlstone’s ever-popular ping-pong table. Several lively games of Round Robin helped to work off a bit of our pumpkin pie, and it was refreshing to do something physical for a change.
As we drove to church, Nate leaned over and said, “Just before we ate, did you see Helen reach into the oven and pull out the turkey pan with her bare hands? She must have hands of asbestos!”
I assured him that the bird was probably just keeping warm in a very low oven, but he didn’t believe me. “Right out of the oven!” he said. “I’ll never forget it.” And he didn’t, referring to Helen’s wonder-hands many times after that.
The concert was a time of rest as we focused on God through heart-stirring music about him. When I looked down the row, though, Mom was sketching something on her bulletin – the front of the church and where she thought each member of the wedding party should stand. In less than 48 hours, we’d all be in those places.
Back in Wilmette, we dove into Phase Two of gift-opening, this time with Nate’s family and our California people on hand. Aunt Joyce recorded each gift and giver in a book, as Nate and I opened and opened. As she wrote on page after page, both of us were powerfully impacted (for the first time) that our little apartment was about to be lavishly equipped.
We unwrapped dishes, silverware, glasses, blankets, sheets, kitchen utensils, pots, pans, small appliances, fondue pots, crystal, silver, absolutely everything our presently-sparse little nest could possibly need…. and then-some.
It was a mystery why neither of us had made the connection between sending out invitations and piles of gift-boxes arriving at the door. Why hadn’t we put that together? Whatever the reason, on this night, after a blessed Thanksgiving Day, opening so many gifts made a dramatic impression on both of us. We just couldn’t get over it.
“My heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7)