I am in my new minivan right now, in the back seat enjoying being on the way home from Mandeville, Louisiana. My sister Leila, my brother Colby and I are going three miles off the interstate just to get Colby to a Taco Bell. We do what we have to.
We were in Mandeville for the wedding of my cousin Ennis. He’s the last of his siblings to get married and so this wedding represented the last of the big Bragg weddings to have an absolute BLAST at. I don’t know how it happened that not only have the two Bragg sisters had wonderful, fun blow out wedding receptions, but both Bragg brothers managed to marry girls who also wanted wonderful, fun blow out receptions. All four weddings have had open bars, great bands and lots of sweaty, exhausted, smiling family members at the end of the night.
There are so many great things about having a large family (70 people at our last Thanksgiving). Somehow we all like each other and can have fun together. That’s not to say that we all agree about everything – we have differing views on religion, guns, politics and life choices, but my dad and his siblings along with all of their spouses have ALWAYS been there for each other, and have made hard choices sometimes to keep those relationships and in the process have taught myself, my siblings and my cousins about the most important thing in this life other than making Jesus the Lord of our lives – and that is our relationships with each other.
Money comes and goes, politics change, health is an ever elusive prey, but our relationships with those people who have somehow been connected to us by blood are what make life worth living both now, as we age, and in the life to come. It’s crazy but true that those whom you are closest to tend to be the very ones that you treat the worst. But that means that they know you. They have seen you at your lowest, are there for births and deaths, graduations and marriages. Your triumphs are their triumphs. Your sorrows they share.
Children are a blessing. My grandmother Leila had six children; five of them lived to adulthood. All five of those children have marriages that have lasted for more than 35 years. Between them they had 20 children and 25 great-grandchildren, with more on the way. I cannot imagine my life without them and that was made even more evident this weekend as we made beautiful fools of ourselves on the dance floor, cried some, hugged and laughed, missed those who were gone, put babies to sleep and in general had an amazing time.
My Uncle Ennis said it best at the rehearsal dinner when he said that every toast that was given, from both sides (bride and groom), both the funny stories and the marriage advice, came down to relationship. I am amazed everyday at how lucky and blessed I am to have so many great ones. Can’t wait to see what the years ahead will bring. Someone needs to get engaged so we can have another reason to come together on the dance floor.