We have been engaged 24 days as of today – with 101 to go (only referencing that number for the flow of this first sentence, 101 sounds very fast, so let’s not think about that) – and we were super spoiled by our families with two engagement parties. We were engaged November 23rd and that very evening my Mom had started to make plans for a December 1st party at our house. It was the first time we had seen many of our family/close friends since engagement and it was such a fun time. Surreal, really. A lot of my bridesmaids were there (4 out of 6!) and 2 of Randy’s groomsmen. (The other 4 aren’t local.) It was a relaxed evening, chatting and connecting with friends – as well as opening up a few gifts and cards. We are set with mugs and tea and coffee by now!
The next weekend, Randy’s mom planned another engagement party for us at her home in Courtenay. We hadn’t been back to Vancouver Island since we went over in August (four months ago!) so we decided to make a long weekend. Thursday afternoon we arrived in Courtenay and then had all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday and a little bit of Sunday at his Mom’s. When we got off the ferry in Nanaimo, it had already started to snow and continued most of the day. Courtenay was a winter wonderland – especially in the field/lane behind Randy’s mom’s house (where those first few photos were taken.)
Randy and I have only taken three trips to Courtenay together (June, August and this one, December) but every single time is so, so wonderful. There’s something about the “space” there and the smaller town. (I think Courtenay is 40,000 people and connected to nothing. Versus our city of Langley which is 100,000 and connected to a 1-2 million metropolis, hah!) Randy’s mom’s house has amazing views – look at those mountains – and her house has a “warmth” that’s the best to come home to.
Whenever he is back in Courtenay, Randy always has lots of friends he’d like to connect with – but we usually choose to pick a few hangouts and have quality over quantity. One evening we were able to go out for dinner with newlywed friends of his (actually, his best man) and had an amazing meal and sat and talked for almost three hours. Another morning, we drove north to Campbell River with one of Randy’s groomsmen, Brent and his four kids. We ran a work errand (picking up some tools) but also took a leisurely stroll on the pier (sarcastic – how can you be leisurely strolling on an icy pier with freezing water on both sides with four kids under the age of eight?!? Danger.) And let’s not forget to mention, the weather was -10*C.
The weather was freezing all weekend – but made the weekend all the more magical to me. The rest of Canada regularly gets below freezing temperatures, but the Lower Mainland of BC and Vancouver Island is very moderate. December usually means 5-7*C (around 40 F) and rain. Lots of rain. To have snow on the ground, blue skies, sunshine and below freezing temperatures… I was almost giddy over it every time I walked outside. On one of the first Fall/Winters I didn’t travel to Montreal… I felt like God brought Quebec to me for a weekend. ;)
It’s easy to see how Randy came from his mom – they are both two of the most generous, giving, caring, positive people I know. Jackie was so, so excited to throw us an engagement party in her house with over fifty of Randy’s friends and family. She had been preparing all week long, making everything from scratch, wanting to celebrate “us” with nothing but the best. She was hiding things around the house in the days we were there (“Don’t come to the basement! Give me a warning!”) and keeping things a surprise. It was the best. When we came home Friday afternoon, Jackie had hired someone to paint the house windows while we were out. So sweet.
Saturday evening came and it was time for the party. Candles were lit, the fire was burning, balloons were hung, of course, windows were painted, food was cooking and being prepared in both kitchens (upstairs and basement suite!) and people were on their way. It was overwhelming (in the best way) to see so much of “Randy’s life” in one room. A lot of people I had met once (“Hi! How are you?”) but hadn’t connected with beyond that and many were brand new to me. Randy’s mom out-did herself and we can’t thank her enough for all of her hard work. She truly pours her heart out to serve those she loves.
Everybody cleared out from the party around 11 o’ clock, but we stayed up with Randy’s mom and two siblings until after midnight, talking and laughing and just enjoying being together. (You enjoy those times more when the 5 of us are scattered between 3 different cities.) I think we finally got to bed around 1 or 2 AM and the next morning was Randy’s 25th birthday! (I swear, this has been the fullest busiest most life-changing, overwhelming three weeks of my life.) My parents had traveled over on Saturday for the engagement party (which was awesome, so nice to “show” them Randy’s Courtenay life) and were still in town Sunday morning. We all met at the Kingfisher Resort for brunch and then, full of coffee and eggs, headed south to catch the West Vancouver ferry.
It was an amazing weekend. As I get to the bottom of this post, I know my words haven’t done our time justice. I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked to so far this winter – and I think my perfectionism is a huge reason why. I want my posts to feel “alive,” to re-read them and think, “yes! that was exactly what it felt like!” Writing takes time. Sorting through my thoughts, playing with my choice in words – it all takes time. Time and concentration that in this season (of wedding planning, of life transition, of change, of ill-health, of fatigue, of decisions), I don’t have. I’m making a choice to communicate and record this engagement season in my life regardless of how perfect the words sound to me. There will be a time and a season to master language, to focus on writing – but in this season, all I have to offer is my unedited thoughts. Happy Tuesday!