On Thankfulness and Not Eloping


I have a (deeply empathic) friend who feels sorry for Thanksgiving every year. She says it gets swallowed up in the aftermath of Halloween candy and the early arrival of Christmas on the shelves, and it’s tucked right next to Black Friday. Poor Thanksgiving, forced into a too-small seat of humility between the kids table and the fat uncle of the proverbial holiday buffet.

I haven’t always loved November, what with the red cups and the Christmas-is-coming and the forced feeling of buckling up for the holidays. For the last many years—five, to be specific—this month hasn’t necessarily been a joy of my delight. In the past, I’ve started to detach and shut down as a way of preserving my emotional ounces.

But I’m doing it differently this year. I’m slowing down, living each day as it comes, refusing December before it’s time, and utterly embracing the Thankfulness of it all.

(I love the story I’m about to tell you.)

When Peter proposed to me, we almost eloped.  Very-nearly-for-sure-almost.

There I was, with a sparkly ring on my finger, and consequently faced with a giant project and action items that overwhelmed me to paralysis. We had set a tentative date for January 2017, only because we were listening to the many voices telling us to “take it slow” and “don’t rush into this” and “at least make sure we can be there.” But I had already made the hard decisions, and I was feeling smashed and squished and silenced. I just wanted to marry this man.

After a month of being engaged and zero headway toward an actual marriage, I texted my parents to say, “Please come over for dinner tonight. Just a heads up for dinner conversation: I’d like to get married on Tuesday.”

To their credit, they neither overreacted nor took the bait. (It wasn’t bait. I was entirely serious. But they know me well enough to know when I’m on the ledge, and quick movements only push me further in the wrong direction.) They simply texted back: “We’ll be there at 6:00.”img_3987

And I wrote back for good measure: “There is only a slim chance that I can be talked out of this. So please do not come to change my mind.”

And they replied: “Of course. See you at 6:00.”

And then dinner unfolded with spaghetti and garlic bread and Caesar salads, and I told them my plan. I may have folded my arms and furrowed my brow in the same way I’ve done my whole life, when I know I might be about to do something I’ll regret but I want the respect of the decision.

And my mom said, “Trish, I hear you.  I do.  And there’s got to be a happy medium somewhere between January of 2017”—she stretched her arms l-o-n-g into next year and then she brought them so close—“and Tuesday.”

And my dad said, “I think you have options you haven’t thought of and people who’d love to help you. I bet if you called a handful of your friends right now, they would make a wedding happen.”

Could that be true? Are there such friends who love to do such things? I am here to tell you: Yes. Yes, there are.

I put my toe in the water, and I texted my girl, Kate. I said, “So hypothetically speaking… if I give you a budget and a credit card, would you help me get married in May?”

Within two minutes, I read her reply. “I thought you’d never ask. I already started a Pinterest Board. Let’s do this.”

At which point I started to cry. Because there are people who love me this much, and because I felt the rush of relief, and because I realized in that moment that I really, truly and completely, wanted a wedding.  I wanted to throw a party that put the last five years to rest.

Kate took it from there. She put a team together: Kimmy arranged the flowers, Marcy planned every detail of the décor, Heather acted as administrator for chairs and seating for a backyard wedding for 100 followed by a dinner-and-dancing reception for 300, and Kate chaired the whole event. Complete with catering, cake, ambiance, guest lists and RSVPs, and a contingency plan when the weather threatened rain.

You guys, I bought a dress, and I showed up to my wedding. This is all I did. And it was exquisite and glorious and perfect and flawless and ours. In every single way.



And at the wedding reception, when my brother gave the Best Man’s toast, he stood under a canopy of white lights, and he raised his glass to the 28 tables of people who raised theirs right back. And he said, “Tricia and Peter, look around you right now. These people came to celebrate tonight because they love you, they love your story, and they love every bit of healing and restoration that this day represents. These people… this is why you didn’t elope. Thank you for letting us do this with you.”

All these years later, to my wedding guests and my blog readers – each of you, friends of my heart, let me say it again:

Thank you for letting us do this with you.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. And that wedding was held at the large church where I served as a pastor at the time, and somewhere during the decorating of the gym that would turn it into a dinner and reception hall, a friend on that church staff who was hanging twinkle lights paused for a minute and said to me, “Polly, we are so glad to be doing this for Tricia—but do you know that we are doing it for you, too? Because we love you and know you all have had some hard seasons in your family, and we want YOU to be able to celebrate too, mother of the bride! So, I need to get back to hanging those twinkle lights, but I just wanted you to know that. And that we love you.” Tears began to fall even as I typed this, and she will never know how much that little chat meant to me.
    (Unless, of course, I text her and suggest that she read my comment on your post today. Then she’ll know.)

  2. LOVE THIS STORY! And by the by, I have a son on the ledge with a crucial decision right now. I’m going to remember that part about not making any sudden movements to push him off…. My new mantra: “When someone is on the ledge, DO NOT LUNGE.”

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