france, part iii: la fête

The evening of the party, we had a slight change in weather.

Instead of the brilliant sun we’d had the whole week, the sky was suddenly flooded with big, dark clouds and a cool fog covered the mountains.

Luckily, my dad had sprung for a cabin big enough to hold us all, just in case of rain. Well planned, Papa! And thus, the preparations began.

The men even braved the elements to work the grill!

Some of us preferred to cuddle around the fireplace…

Cousins! And second cousins!

Aunts, uncles, parents, adopted parents, and Oscar the dog ☺.

One we arrived at the cabin, we were immediately showered with hugs, glasses of champagne, gifts, and a lot of happy, smiling faces. Oh, and food. Lots of food.

(I love this photo. We were discussing Conrad’s lack of facial hair, and the very probable chance that I have more chin whiskers than he does!)

After a quick toast, it was time for presents. We got some truly amazing gifts! My mom gave us both a pair of beautiful silver bracelets, and the Midtvåge-Diallo family gifted us with a gorgeous book of Hans Christian Anderson tales. Our family friend Sandra gave us two stunning pendants made of serpentine, a beautiful green stone found naturally in the area, and my aunt and uncle gave us a gorgeous, sunny tablecloth from the south of France, where they live. My friend Aline found a wall plaque with a photo of the mountain range on it – it already has a home in our place in Colorado! Finally, my best friend, Nora, gave us an actual maple tree (brought with her from Germany!) that we planted in the yard of my cousin Daniel’s cabin. Along with the tree was a framed photo of a dried maple leaf for us to keep. It was overwhelming to be presented with such lovely gifts, but so wonderful as well. Thank you again to everyone for your kindness and generosity!

Feeling very lucky to have all these people in our lives ^

Finally, it was time to EAT.

And eat we did!

It was so cool to see that, despite the language barriers, everyone in the room found a way to communicate. Through a mix of English, French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and even some Swahili, all of us were able to share stories, tell jokes, give speeches, and laugh until our sides hurt. It’s beyond corny to say, but love really is the international language!

More cheese, please!

Meanwhile, a few sneaky relatives were preparing a surprise out in the dreary weather…

My aunt and uncle, Christiane and Michel, surprised us with a traditional French wedding cake -an actual croquembouche! This is one of my absolute favorite desserts (and the reason I learned to bake!), so I was ECSTATIC.

In case you can’t tell, I was super happy about the surprise!

I mean, look at this thing! Puff pastry, rum cream, caramel, and spun sugar, oh my! The best, if not the most long-lasting, gift of the night.

Once everyone was stuffed silly finished eating, it was time for some speeches!

These lovely ladies made us recap our vows, which was surprisingly tough! I couldn’t remember the details, but I’m pretty sure they had something to do with loving, and receiving, and giving, and sharing. Right, Conrad? 

This is me feeling like a bad wife because I forgot my vows only one year later…while Conrad steals the show with a tear-inducing, beautifully put summary of what he said at our wedding. Traitor! How was I supposed to know that we’re supposed to remember our vows?!!

Nevertheless, this smooth talker more than made up for my fumbled attempt, and I love him all the more for it.

More speeches followed, including several happy tears and several more glasses of champagne.

As we sat listening to my mom, we took a moment to remember my grandparents, Mami Lulu and Papi Laurent, hoping that they knew how much they were missed this night. We laughed about their eccentricities and said thanks for their unconditional love for all the oddballs in our family (aka all of us!). No matter who you were or what you did, Mami and Papi always welcomed you with open arms and a huge meal. It’s because of them that we were all there, in the mountains, together, and I’m certain that they must have been with us that night, in some way or another.

Finally, it was time to call it a night and head back to our respective cabins.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who made this evening so magical. Seeing my worlds collide so seamlessly was something I wasn’t sure was possible. I spent a great part of my childhood feeling anxious about having so many different ‘lives’ – my life in Sweden, my life in France, my life in Colorado (to name a few) – and how these worlds might not fit well together. Months before our trip, in fact, I began to worry about whether or not people would get along, whether they’d be able to communicate with each other, whether my French would send everyone laughing at how terrible it is.

Yet, as our wedding and this week in France proved, great people are great people, no matter what world they come from. Seeing my husband bond with my cousin over their love of Sigur Ros, an eclectic Icelandic band, I couldn’t believe I’d ever even had a shadow of a doubt that these people and these worlds would clash.

Blood may be thicker than water, but love is greater than both. It’s really all you need.

Much love to you all.

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