On a beautiful day last October, our family was gathered here together to prepare for the wedding reception of a very sweet, very dear cousin. I am pictured here with all of my children, my parents-in-law, who the children call Ba and Dada, and my husband’s brother, whom they call Nana. My husband was away on business, but the rest of us were ready to go enjoy some music, food and catching up with old friends. A picture of family serenity? Yes. But it had taken a village and several hours for us to dress to impress!
I can count on one hand the number of times that I have worn a sari in my married life. It was something that I dabbled in during our newlywed years, in the attempt to blend into the fold of the family, but had abandoned the efforts in favor of my comfortable little black dress instead. After all, that is who I am. But, for this special bride, we wanted to show her the honor of dressing our very best in celebration of her big day.
Since Daddy was away, I had the help of Dada and Nana to wrangle the younger boys into submission, while Ba and another gracious lady opened up a stockpile of safety pins and jewelry and prepared to transform my beautiful daughter and I. We stood as mannequins, arms out, myself with my tummy sucked in, as the two women worked their magic, pleating and draping and pinning as they turned us around and around, then pinning some more. All the while, I listened anxiously to the antics of the younger boys as they rebelled over their wardrobes, but Dada and Nana kept them in line.
As the finishing pleats were pinned in just the right place on our shoulders, my oldest son came into the room dressed and stood beside my daughter. I saw them in a light that I had never seen before that day. She, in her bright colors and he in his red silk, they were a far cry from the kids who wore jeans and tee shirts to school everyday. Faces alight with smiles, complexions glowing, they wore their new looks as if they did this every day. They were comfortable in their skins and this was just another layered they had discovered.
When I look at this photo of us all, I remember how the pleats of my skirt and the safety pin holding them irritated my own skin, but I am happy to know that I was the only one who felt it.