Sunday, June 4, 2023

A Weekend Celebrating Beauty, Truth, Goodness, and Love

We had an amazing weekend in Pennsylvania celebrating the wedding of my dear friend W from college and her now-husband P! We drove up from Virginia and made a whole weekend of it. P's family is from India, and they incorporated beautiful Indian traditions into the welcome party on Friday night. We joined other guests in wearing Indian dress, including baby S. We stayed just long enough to see the bride and groom exchange garlands, which signifies their acceptance of and respect for each other. S was exhausted from the drive up, so unfortunately we had to leave to put him to bed before we could enjoy the amazing Indian dinner. (This was one of the many reasons we regretted not booking a room at the main hotel where so many events were held.)

We got settled into our hotel eventually after a bit of a wild goose chase for a pack 'n play after (to our shock) our hotel's receptionist said they did not have the pack 'n play we requested months in advance available. It's a long story, but we were ultimately able to buy a pack 'n play at a local Target and request reimbursement. Otherwise, the room was great and I couldn't wait to catch up on some sleep.

The next day, we knew we had a full morning before the wedding festivities started so I planned an excursion for us to Valley Forge National Historical Park. Valley Forge was the encampment site of the Continental Army during the winter of 1777-1778 during the American Revolutionary War. The park blew me away, and one could easily spend a whole day there in weather as lovely as we had. There were trails where folks were walking, jogging, biking, and pushing strollers. There were areas with scenic views and picnic tables. There was a range of fascinating history and a mix of recreations and original materials.

You can learn more about the history of Valley Forge on the National Park Service website. In recent years, it seems like the park service has really taken some time to research and share the stories of more marginalized people whose experiences didn't feature prominently in most of the mythos around Valley Forge in the public consciousness over the years. Now you can learn more about the women, Black people, and Indigenous people at Valley Forge. We also stopped by the newest monument: one dedicated to Patriots of African Descent by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a historically African American service sorority. I learned a lot on this visit, and I appreciate the ongoing effort to expand our understanding of our history and its legacy today.

After that, we returned to the hotel so S could nap and we could get ready for the main event. Once we were ready, we dropped S off with a complimentary nanny service graciously provided by our friends and arrived for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception at Philander Chase Knox Estate. Originally built in the late 1700s, the Estate once served as the summer home of Philander Chase Knox, former U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. Even President Theodore Roosevelt once stayed in the house! I wish I had taken more pictures at the wedding because everything - from the venue to the decorations to the flowers - was stunning. My friend W has impeccable taste and class, and it showed in every detail.

There was just the right mix of hilarious anecdotes and tearjerker moments in the ceremony and reception that made me grateful I wore my waterproof mascara. We also loved the thoughtful seating arrangements that put us at a table with fascinating conversation partners with passions ranging from fighting cybercrime to studying macroeconomics to running a think tank to diagnosing foot conditions. It was a fabulous group and an unforgettable evening. Unfortunately, we didn't last too long after the cake cutting, knowing we needed to pick up S from the nannies and take him home. Our sweet boy was so tired he fell asleep before we even got there but let us transfer him to our hotel without an issue. It was our first time leaving someone to watch him with other kids, so we had been a little unsure of how he would handle it. To our relief, the nannies assured us he played wonderfully with the older kids there and they had all had great fun trying to teach him how to high-five.

Sunday morning, we joined our friends for a farewell breakfast and were amazed at their alertness given the party had apparently continued long after we turned in until about 3am! It was so meaningful to spend such a special time with friends. One of the toughest things about the Foreign Service is that we're usually overseas and have to miss so many of these important occasions and milestones. I'm so glad we could be here for this one, and we can't wait to host W and P (and any of the many other friends we met this weekend and invited) in Dubai!

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