Our family had a big year in 2021 -- we celebrated four graduations and threw a surprise wedding!
To recap: Katherine graduated from college and moved to Houston to work for a start up in sales and business development; her boyfriend Kevin moved to Houston as well and is working as a commodity associate. Will graduated from college and obtained a job in cyber security in northern Virginia. He is also in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Julia graduated with her Master's Degree in Journalism, accepted a new job in D,C. in communications, and relocated from Colorado back to northern Virginia with her boyfriend Nick, a mechanical engineer. John graduated from high school and went off to college, and he is creating a pilot episode for a PBS NewsHour series on the topic of youth mental health. Katie started a new job as a business design consultant and bought her first apartment in D.C.
We celebrated my milestone birthday last month in Key West, and Joel celebrated his milestone birthday on Christmas Day, 2020, at home with all of our children.
It's not easy to throw a surprise wedding, but Joel and I figured that after meeting over 55 years ago in kindergarten, dating for the past 11 years, and being engaged for the past 6 years, the time was right. If not now, when? We liked the idea of surprising all of our children just before the holidays. We knew that they would be very happy and excited for us. In addition, none of their lives would be changed or impacted in any way from our marriage. We had blended our two families very slowly and gradually over the past 11 years. Most people assumed we were already married.
It was a little challenging to accomplish the goal of having all of our children gather in one place on time, and we were stressed the Friday night before the Sunday morning wedding. We worried that maybe work would interfere or that they would not be punctual or be dressed in formal attire for pictures. We had told them a while ago that we were gathering for family photos, brunch, and a gift exchange on December 19th. They kept forgetting. So we broke the news to them Saturday, December 18th that there was also going to be a wedding at home the next morning. For years they had wondered when we would tie the knot. They were shocked and excited when we surprised them with our news.
On Saturday night our photographer canceled when I emailed her a quick note to say that we were all double or triple vaccinated. She replied in an email that we were not a good fit for her and that she was not vaccinated at all. A wedding photographer angel, Nick at JB Elliott Photography, soon came to our rescue; he was vaccinated and always wears a mask when he photographs weddings.
We had a fabulous day on Sunday, December 19, 2021 with our longtime friend and Rabbi Jeff Saxe coming to our house to marry us and sing two beautiful songs on his guitar, all of our children going to brunch in Georgetown on the waterfront to celebrate, and then all of us returning home for tree trimming and a White Elephant gift exchange. It was not easy getting everyone together given busy schedules and, of course, the pandemic -- but we pulled it off!
Katherine flew back to Houston on December 20th, got her booster vaccine on the 21st and tested positive for Covid on the 22nd. We all tried to remain calm. What choice did we have? She had no symptoms, never felt sick, and never developed any symptoms.. We notified our rabbi and our photographer immediately. All of us have tested negative for Covid numerous times since the 22nd.
As we look ahead to 2022, we wish everyone good health and much happiness in the New Year!
Top photo by JB Elliott Photography, bottom photo by Lisa Halpern
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.