I've never been to a barn raising, but I think I've experienced something pretty close. I'd mentioned in a previous column that my son, Ian, was getting married in our yard on June 14, and that since he and his fiancee, Kristen, had hired a wedding planner I was pretty much out of the picture. All I had to do was clear the clutter and find a decent looking dress that fit (which at my age is quite a challenge.)
To my surprise and delight, that was not the case. Both the day before and the morning of the wedding, more than half the guests, including four sets of parents and stepparents, a brother, several half-brothers and stepsiblings congregated at our house to prepare for the big event. Andi, the wedding planner, assigned everyone a job. The bride, along with her sister, Kim, stepsister, Charlotte and maid of honor, Casey assisted Andi in arranging all the flowers.
The bride's mother, Mary, and stepmother, Lana, decorated the house inside and out by draping swags and bows on the windows, deck and balcony. Her stepdad, Bob, set up his amps and practiced his guitar solo on the balcony while the rest of the family guys set up the chairs and arbor in the lawn and attended to last minute yard work.
Lana whipped up elaborate bows for the chairs. Chrisa, Ian's stepsister assembled a collage of childhood pictures and Leif, Ian's half-brother made the final inspection to make sure every last strand of pine straw was in place.
The day of the wedding, while the ladies gathered to have their hair and makeup done, Dorothy, my son's stepmother finished up odd jobs and took candid snapshots of all the prenuptial activities.
But even more remarkable to me were the efforts of those who weren't even invited. In a casual conversation with my neighbor, Lorna, she asked what kinds of flowers Kristen was using. When I told her daisies, she said, "I have hundreds of daisies I need to thin out. Do you want some?"
Of course I did. Even if no one else noticed, I was touched to see all the daisies growing along the driveway, blending in with those the florist provided.
My friend, Joann, who has a cleaning service, rearranged her schedule so she could give my house a good going over before the big day. My next-door neighbor, Marge, with the water restrictions in effect, used her own precious time and water to spruce up the flowers at the end of our driveway the morning of the wedding. And a new friend, Jayne, who doesn't even know my son, acted as a surrogate "me" during the reception, so I could be zero percent hostess and 100 percent mother of the groom.
In the end, friends and family did not merely attend a joyous event, but enjoyed the fruits of their own time and talent. And the afternoon went off, as was hoped for, without a hitch.
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.