Celebratory faces

(Reminder to click on the pictures to see an enlarged version…) 

I have to show you the FOOD that was prepared for this wedding banquet! There were 3 tables in one room, and one more table in the adjoining room primarily for the children. The tables lined the walls, and we were given the seats of honor — next to Jeanne and Kolya (with daughter-in-law Dasha in between — what a blessing to have someone translating all the little comments being made.) This food is simply Round One of three.

The guests began to arrive and we all found our seats — because of the table arrangements, once you found your place the only way out was over or under the tables. That is, unless you waited for the breaks in the action when we would all go outside.

Jim gave the first toast of the evening — specifically for Jeanne and Kolya. After a short pause in the eating, I found myself standing up and offering a toast not just to the bride and groom, but also with a special thank you to Olya for raising a great son and for throwing a great party! (Note the hand-embroidery behind Jim’s head — Olya stitched that, as well as many others throughout the house!)

After a time of sitting, eating and toasting, the men invited Jim to go outside for a smoke. He politely turned them down, but it turns out that EVERYONE goes outside for a break. While we’re outside dancing, worker bees are cleaning all the plates, placing them back at each place and adding the first group of hot dishes to the tables which were already overflowing with food! Music was setting the tone, so I went inside and invited Olya to dance with me. I like this picture not just because we are both smiling, but because Dasha looks like she is having as much fun as we were! (Note my beautiful shawl — a bithday gift from Dasha and Jamie last month.)

Though I prodded Kolya and Jeanne to dance, they weren’t particularly interested. Just as they were FINALLY thinking that MAYBE they would dance, along came Jim and swooped Jeanne to the dance floor. Which, of course, was the bare ground. Her heels kept sinking into the dirt, but she managed to swing a bit with her father.

Galya was a one-woman show on the dance floor, but she and Jim had a fun duet as the pace picked up. Childen danced in circles, we all held hands and made a huge circle allowing people to move in for “solo” steps. (Adam, a friend from Canada did a little break dance number that brought the babushki to their feet, clapping as he danced!)

The neighbors who were NOT invited to the actual banquet were welcome to come over and watch the outdoor festivities. Apparently they wanted to SEE the foreigners, but stayed around because they had no idea that we would be so boisterous on the dance floor.

Kolya and Jeanne (in that order for YOU, Kolya) were getting a little tired…it had been a long few days…but there was more in store inside.

Another round of hot dishes, and then Kolya’s godfather passed a plate encouraging guests to leave a little financial gift for the young couple. After he collected the money, he offered a song and a dance.

The ladies sang several times throughout the evening. (Again, I need to figure out how to use YouTube — this is priceless!) Dasha would let me know the folk songs they were singing and it reminded me of our country music lyrics. Sad. Heartbreaking. Love lost. It seemed a bit strange for a wedding celebration, but everyone knew the words and so they sang.

After a while they asked US to sing something American. No way was I even going to attempt the Star-Spangled Banner — not an easy song to sing without a whole stadium joining in! Dasha and I gave our best rendition of God Bless America!

Always more dancing, but there came a time that we had to call it a night. Our ride the next day was picking us up at 4:30a.m. Even though the time had changed, we went to bed so late that it didn’t feel like an extra hour. Just not so bad as if the time HADN’T changed!

One interesting aside: Dasha noticed that whenever people wanted to ask us foreigners a question, it almost always came around to faith and what we believed. She thought it was interesting that they didn’t ask about our food, nor our traditions, nor much about our families. But they DID want to know about our beliefs. We were happy to oblige!

What a day!



  1. Are you trying to tell me that of ALL the goofy songs you’ve sung at weddings and parties that the best you could come up with was “God Bless America?”

    Oh, had I been there…

  2. Lynne: Where WERE you? I needed to come up with an American song. That Dasha also knew. Otherwise I would have to sing by myself — heaven forbid! Be thinking what you’ll want to sing in January! It’s kind of like a do-over… Debski is coming with her hubby…

  3. That picture of Jim dancing with that woman was PRICELESS! You had better keep that away from the eyes of some of your more conservative supporters!

    Also — I don’t think have ever heard “God Bless America” sung at a wedding!
    On the other hand — that has got to be a LOT better than the “chicken dance,” the “hokey pokey,” and “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong.”

  4. What’s the date in January?

  5. Wonderful, wonderful day!


  6. And what a beautiful shawl! I love it.


  7. 12 January

  8. Doug that woman I am dancing with is Galya, Kolya’s sister who recently got married herself in August. Marianna and I actually danced quite a bit with each other, but since we were taking the pictures there is no record. It did not appear that many if any of the men danced. They drank, ate, sang, smoked and watched.

  9. jjpmd: Thanks for clearing up that photo!

    Mari-Nanci: I don’t know whether the photos truly represent how beautiful the shawl is. It is also reversible, with one side being primarily black (or deep, dark chocolate brown) and the other side being primarily tan. The PERFECT complement to dress up a rather plain top and black pants.

    Doug: Get your dancing shoes polished and ready to go — Galya will be at the January wedding as well! No room for the “action” songs at the table! But, had I THOUGHT about the hokeypokey while we were outside I am quite certain that I would have had at least the children singing and dancing along. (I used that song to help teach orphans the parts of the body, and right and left). And maybe YOU’D like to LEAD the chicken dance — it is becoming painfully clear that my dear friends (your hosts) in Salisbury will not be able to make the trip in January. So very sad.

  10. Dancing, food, and lots of fun, It sounds like the perfect evening. You and your husband sound like the perfect couple. I just love how he steps in to clear up the situation. That young woman has nothing over on you! You are beautiful inside and out. You inspire me!

    BTW-The shawl is lovely!

  11. Ann: You are way too kind! (I do admit that I found the perfect husband for me, though!)

  12. What happened to the lovely shawls you received from Nepal?

    If you use them, would you want another?

  13. Wow! this looks like an absolute blast. The table reminds me of myu childhood Thanksgiving and Easters where we spend them with my paternal Polish gramma. Then the entire extended family would come over and indeed, we had to climb under the table to escape hordes during feasting. And my poppy would always pull out his harmonica and there would be singing. No dancing in my memory though. Gosh, I really miss that for my kids. My grandparents all had 7-8 siblings each and they all came with their progeny and so on and so on….I also remember there being only one bathroom during the nuttiness….

  14. Anna: I’m slowly learning how to wear them… I have two beautiful shawls from Nepal and they are in my room. Would you give me lessons in wearing them??

    Kibbe: Good family times! And we only had one bathroom in Bereshki — and it was outside.

  15. Find someone to help you get this on YOUTUBE. Can’t wait to see the Babushkas serenading! What a priceless experience on a happy occasion! Glad to see Jim doing the Americans honor by whooping it up on the dance floor! How fun to have two celebrations for a lifelong commitment:-)

  16. I’m just joshing you, but I would be happy to give you a lesson!

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