“Something Old, Something New…”

Sixty-three years ago, a young woman named Naomi went to a dry goods store in Elmira to select fabric for her wedding dress. As was customary in her circle at that time, she chose from the blue colour palette and took home two swatches to show her fiancé. She said that he liked the navy as it went with his suit, but she wanted something a little brighter, so she went with the royal blue crepe piece. She sewed her dress on their Singer treadle sewing machine at their farm house in the little hamlet of Yatton.

Thirty-one years later, Naomi’s daughter went to Duthler Textiles on Gaukle Street in Kitchener to find fabric for her wedding dress. She chose a bolt of European-made chiffon with embroidered lily-of-the-valley throughout it to go over a lining of soft satin. She sewed her dress on the Kenmore sewing machine given to her by her Mom and Dad on her twentieth birthday. It was a cocktail length with three-quarter sleeves and lovely, sheer shoulders. Pearl buttons with individual elastic loops ran down the back of it.

And, just a few months ago, Naomi’s daughter’s daughter went to a small shop called Boutique 1861 on St. Laurent Blvd. in Montreal and chose her wedding frock “off the rack”. The dress was brought home for alterations and added bits and pieces. The same pearl buttons that held her mother’s dress in place will be removed and stitched down the back of her dress. “Something old” perhaps?

There’s going to be a wedding here on the farm. The proverbial fatted calf has made its contribution, and the mismatched china plates have been collected. Rentals are in place, flowers are ordered, and we hope for a fair weather day.

When I got married, our meal of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, dressing, and pumpkin torte for dessert was made entirely by the ladies at the church. My mom and her family made all the food for their wedding meal of mashed potatoes, Schneiders Red Hots sliced open and stuffed with dressing then drenched in brown butter, veggies, and sours. Mom used a hand beater to whip the egg whites for the dozen or so angel food cakes that she made from scratch. She also made all the icing with that same hand beater. Our girl wants to make her own cakes as well, though not every last one and not with a hand beater! Family and a caterer will be part of the mix.

There is this lovely thread of matriarchy that is running through these wedding preparations. Women putting their heads together, remembering, planning, dreaming, and working. Ideas are birthed and schemes are hatched. Sisters, aunts, cousins, and Grammas are lending their hands. Friends are doing their bit. There is a coming together of the village to create a day of joyful celebrations for one of their kin.

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” goes the old saying. Wisdom from the old can carry forward into the new, but there is always room for recreating how things are done and borrowing from what has worked elsewhere. Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof said that tradition helped to keep balance, but he also found out that holding too tightly to tradition can be harmful to relationships. It takes deep connectedness to stay fluid.

In the weeks ahead, meats will be slow roasted, batters will be mixed, and porches will be painted as we prep and primp for that big day. Dresses and shoes, earrings and pearls, shirts and ties all need to be gathered and pressed. The clock ticks on heedless of time, and the day will come, ready or not. We will celebrate with abandon and officially gain another family member. And Naomi’s daughter’s daughter will weave her own colours into the family tapestry. As Chava says to Tevye – “The world is changing, Papa”. May we both hold tight and let go all at the same time.


Published by Judy

On the edge of Waterloo county resting sedately on knoll, is an old stone house looking out towards the Grand River. This stone house and farm has been in my husband's family for years. We have been graced to call this place home for the last thirty years. Our best crop has been our four children. After years of immersing myself in raising and educating our family, the proverbial nest has slowing been emptying, opening up space for me to fill with other pursuits. Both writing and photography have been knit into my everyday living since I was very young. Sharing them is both a bit of a dream and a bit of a nightmare. But living small and in fear shrivels up a life. My thoughts are musings on God, aging, family, and simply living. My shelves are lined with books, my baskets are brimming with skeins of yarn, my closet shelves are stacked with apparel, my cellar shelves are chock full of home canning - all testaments to my inclinations. Our journeys are not solitary affairs. As I share bits of my journey with you, I hope you will be enticed to look more closely, listen more attentively, and live with abandon. May God's peace rest on your journey. Judy

8 thoughts on ““Something Old, Something New…””

  1. Rosemary K Martin says:

    Love the sentimentality oozing from these words and pictures. And the references to The Fiddler are so pertinent.

    1. Judy says:

      Thank-you. Yeah, there are so many life lessons in “The Fiddler…”. It’s a good one.

  2. Phyllis Montgomery says:

    So very lovely! Enjoy every moment of the preparations for “the big day”. What a fun time for all of you!

    1. Judy says:

      Thanks Phyllis! Yes, we will enjoy – most of the time! 🙂

  3. Beth Gingrich says:

    Hi Judy. This is well written and struck a chord in my heart. Our 2nd youngest son just married this past Sat. A day of great joy, and now to find the balance of holding tight and letting go!! God bless you and Fred on your daughters wedding day. I pray all goes well. 🙂 Beth

    1. Judy says:

      Thanks Beth. It’s quite something to be at this stage of life, isn’t it?

  4. Wil says:

    I enjoy reading how you blend the past with the present!

    1. Judy says:

      Thanks. I love the old – but I like the new too. I think they both have something to offer.

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