Monday, September 16, 2013

Orange socks

Perhaps every family has a strange wedding tradition. Or perhaps not.

But ours, the Steffen family, has such a tradition.

The men in the wedding party wear orange socks. Yes, orange.

To understand it, you have to go way back to my 1965 wedding, the first wedding in our family. And you have to understand my Dad, who had the most wonderful sense of humor I have ever known in anyone. He lived to tease the six of us kids and went on to tease the heck out of his grandkids as well. To them, he was "Boppa" and they adored him.

So as I was dressing for my wedding in 1965, nervous and frantically telling everyone in my house to hurry up and get ready, I passed my parents' bedroom to see my beloved Dad dressed in his suit, pulling on orange work socks. I'm sure he was posed this way just waiting for me to pass by to see him.

Of course, I freaked. YOU ARE NOT WEARING THOSE SOCKS, I'm sure I screamed. To which he simply casually replied, "Why not?"

This, I am quite certain, put me right over the edge and I went running for Mom to plead with him to change his socks.

It was a joke all along. A word of advice: You do not joke with a bride an hour before her wedding.

Well, the rest of my younger sisters and my brother saw the humor in it. So much so, and possessing a much better sense of calm and humor than me, that for their weddings, they insisted Dad wear orange socks.

Thus, a tradition was born.

This is my daughter, Kristie, and husband Rich, proudly sporting his orange socks on their wedding day.

I have to give credit to the men who marry into this family of ours. Some of them knew Dad; some did not.

But they all have agreed to go along with this tradition to honor my Dad. And they have had a lot of fun doing it.

We celebrated another wedding in our family over the weekend, this time in Hawaii where my sister's youngest, Mac, married Ren Chang, an Oahu native.

I regret I could not attend. What a picture-book setting and what a perfectly lovely couple.

And, of course, the men in the wedding party wearing, what else?

Pictured are the groom, Mac, in the middle; nephew Josh on the left, whose groomsmen also wore orange socks when he married Heidi ten years ago; and my niece Madeline's husband, Eric, who followed this tradition for their own wedding three years ago.

The last wedding for Dad to sport his orange socks was my son, Steve's wedding to Julie in 2001. We continue to honor him; some would think in this strange way, but always he is at the center of the tradition and we remember how he would laugh and show off his socks.

He also always carried a small flask of spirits in an inner pocket of his jacket to every wedding, to "calm his nerves." So far, we've only followed the orange socks-rule.

When my then five-year-old granddaughter was in a dance recital recently and my son was participating in a father-daughter dance with her on stage, it was such a special occasion that he felt compelled to adopt his own orange-socks tradition.

The little dancer and her proud Daddy.

Dad is gone now, but the tradition lives on and he will always be remembered. Strange how these things start.

If you haven't adopted your own family wedding tradition, you might consider starting. However outlandish, however not understood by anyone outside your family, it will be yours and will warm your heart.

Just as the sight of orange socks warms ours.