Monday, February 7, 2011

Institutionalization Guidelines

I have a nephew getting married this month, and I can’t make the trip all the way to California for his big day.

I remember the day he was born. I was 15 years old, just finished my first year of high school. One summer morning, I went downstairs into the kitchen and there was a note on the table with my first nephew’s name, time and date of birth, and other vitals. My first reaction was “Casey? OK, what did they really name him?” It took a few minutes to convince me that his name was in fact Casey. Remember, I came from a background where the only viable naming convention was to choose the name of a saint. Prior to this morning, I knew of only 2 other Caseys. The first was mighty, but he struck out too much. The second was an engineer who needed to “watch his speed”, because there was “trouble ahead, trouble behind.” Now the name Casey is much more common (but still not the name of a saint, at least not yet).

While I can’t attend, I can forward some unsolicited advice on the whole marriage scene. While the instinct to make sly comments and tasteless jokes about the institution of marriage (I mean, who wants to spend their life in an institution?) is strong, I will resist for a few rambling paragraphs. That is my gift to Casey and Laura – I will spare you the poorly crafted puns and obscure comedy movie quotes that are the foundational pieces of any Sherrier humor. You’re welcome.

Spouse is Number One. Cherie and I, like many couples, were required to attend pre-marriage classes by the church. Like many couples, we giggled through too much of it; however, 20 years later, some of the messages stay with me. The first message was that in a marriage, your spouse is Number One. This was a key message throughout the engagement classes. Your new spouse is ahead of your friends, your parents, your future children. All things good will flow from understanding that and living it. This message will be challenged along your journey, and sometimes you may not remember why this is so vital. I would encourage you to return to this message throughout your lives together.

You are the patriarch/matriarch of your future family. It is helpful in making early decisions in married life to picture yourselves as the patriarch and matriarch of your as yet undeveloped family tree. Cherie and I were challenged to visualize ourselves as the elderly grandparents, or great-grandparents, of our extended family, with branches extending in multiple directions. When you recognize your place in that future family photo, every daily decision about your small family (of only 2 people on your wedding day) takes on greater significance. Stephen Covey wrote that we should “begin with the end in mind.” This mentality provides clarity and perspective to everyday situations. Thinking about your final place on your family tree helps you to do that.

One last piece of unsolicited advice: On your wedding day, expect that three things will go wrong. I’m not being negative, just realistic. Keep in mind that a wedding is a major event, and few major events go off without some hitches. Assume there will be hitches, and when they do occur, you can allow them to roll off your back a little easier. Someone may be sick and unable to attend. The florist may forget one boutonniere. The cake may have vanilla icing when you requested chocolate. It will seem large at the moment, but life’s best memories are sometimes those mishaps and how we handle them. Oh, I forgot to mention – it’s a lock that your father (my brother) will embarrass you at some point during the weekend. But you already knew that. He means well…

I hope you appreciate this gift of sage advice. I know it wasn’t on your registry, but here it is anyway. I might send a check, too.

Casey and Laura, best of luck and a world of happiness on your special day and beyond. We love you and you will be in our thoughts as you begin the Great Adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my God! That was hilarious and insightful. We were cracking up. Especially about my dad embarrassing me. Thank you so much for well worded kind guidance. We love you and will be missing you.