Deep in the Fucillo Family archives, there is a story of little kid James at his aunt’s Hawaiian themed Central Valley wedding to a pro football playing islander named Bubba.  The story goes something like this: James was five or six and he was in Aunt Nancy’s wedding.  As he lined-up to go down the aisle, he was supposed to wear a lei.  Part way through he freaked out about the lei scratching his neck, ripped it off and cried all the way down the aisle.

So, with that backdrop, back in October (yes, I realize many of my posts begin with something to the effect of “It seems like yesterday, but just eight short months ago…”), we attended the much-anticipated destination wedding of my brother-in-law, Brett, to his then fiancée, Trisha.

The destination: Gold country turned up-and-coming wine region.

The objective: Tying the knot.

It was a magazine-worthy wedding to say the least.  Picture “sophisticated country”— burlap, hay bale couches with adorable throw pillows, long farm tables, short neutral dresses paired with an array of well-worn cowgirl boots.  Every detail Pinterest-worthy.

I do appreciate that the groom resisted the urge to wear a cowboy hat.  I worry that years from now, people will look back on their ten-gallon wedding photos and really wish they’d exercised greater restraint.  Perhaps in the same way we look back at our own wedding photos and the enduring memento of Brett’s “Justin Bieber Hair” phase.  Fortunately I know he doesn’t read this blog.  Nonna and Erin— do not out me! 

So, I hadn’t really written about the wedding, in part because life moves too quickly, but also in part because two of the, shall we say, smaller people in the wedding party did not cooperate.

I should probably further paint the picture that Jacob and Nathaniel were wearing matching tan JCrew dress pants, chambray button-up shirts, baby belt buckles and cowboy boots.  At one point, an hour before pictures, their hair was combed.  Pictures were scheduled exactly at nap time and so twenty minutes into their car nap, we woke them up.  Mistake number 1.  Jake slid down a dirt hill in his “dress” pants on his rear end after one round of professional shots.  Fortunately his outfit was already in shades of rustic field hand.

A couple of hours passed (mistake number 2) and it was finally time to line-up and head down the aisle.  We had practiced the evening before as part of the rehearsal.  I’d characterize that as going o-kay-ish.  During the rehearsal we had to reset some expectations as to the probability of our monkeys “performing” as planned.  50/50 chance they get down the aisle, holding hands, without their trainer (me).

Holding the “Here Comes the Love of your Life” chalkboard sign?  That will lower the odds to 20/80.  I mostly remember them chomping down a big bowl of Red Delicious apples that I believe were meant as ambiance…

To make a long story short, for the real deal, they made it to the end of the aisle, Jake took one look at the crowd staring at him and was hit by a Tsunami of “no nap, gas station snacks for lunch (mistake number 3), cowboy boots hurt my feet, I’ve been playing in the dirt for three hours and I have never been one to follow instructions on demand” regret.  He made an unintelligible sound of lament, turned and took off.  Nate would have done it, but of course upon seeing his brother, also aborted the mission.  I tried to swoop them both up in my party dress and platform shoes and carry them off so as not to disrupt the bride’s grand entrance.

This entire episode reminded me of my own brother’s wedding when two-year-old Jake escaped my grasp and made a break for it, passing the outdoor altar and running straight up the aisle to freedom.

Maybe that initial 50/50 estimate was a bit generous…

Fast forward two months to the annual preschool Christmas pageant.  We’ve been attending this for three years where we watch Jacob’s class shuffle onto stage in various levels of holiday dress as their teachers sing the song they’re supposed to sing and 98% of the kids look around or cry or try to escape, while one show-off kid hams it up and performs the routine we know they’ve been rehearsing for weeks.

This past Christmas we attended with extremely low expectations.  Especially after the Runaway Ringless Ring Bearers incident.  Nate and his class delivered.  Jill had to coax Nico onto stage and sit with him and Nate as they stared at the crowd and made no effort to perform, despite all of Miss Suzy’s clapping and arm waving.

Then it was Jacob’s class.  They filed onto stage in two lines wearing Santa hats.  Jakey’s hat was a complete dud from Target.  Paid less.  Expected more.  They sang and danced to Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  Shocker of all shockers, JJ danced and sang to the whole thing… even surprising us with an animated air saxophone solo, complete with Elvis-esque hip shaking.  It was a miracle.  Not only did he perform on command, he did it with enthusiasm.  One of the most elating moments of parenting yet!  I think he would have even worn the  “Here Comes the Love of your Life” chalkboard sign.

This Thursday, Jakey has preschool graduation and has been practicing an action-filled, graduation-inspired rendition of Dynamite.

Eight months ago I wouldn’t have held out any hope for this on-demand performance, but now… now I’m feeling pretty confident.  Cocky even.  I’d venture an incredibly daring bet at 90/10.

I might even be so gutsy as to get him a new grad lei.


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