The Big Daddy/Daughter Dance

5 Sep

Our dance score

Normally summer ranks as one of my favorite times of the year. Labor Day weekend stars as a time when the Midwest gives its last hurrah. It marks the end of summer. Kids return to school. Fall fruits mature for the great harvest. And trees try their best to outdo the flowers in their display of color. However, that means long nights, snow, and bitter cold will soon settle in, doggedly refusing to move out in the spring. Labor Day, I have hated you for that. But this year is different.

This Labor Day marks the end of preparation for an event that has caused me much anxiety—all summer. I was assigned a role and a task that divided my emotions. The event: my older daughter’s wedding. Since she and her sister were young, I’ve told them—half teasing—that they will have to elope when they get married because I would never be able to answer the question, “Who gives this woman to this man.” I told them the scripted answer would choke in my throat. Well, the girl I called my princess when she was little found a guy we are so glad to add to our family. She (Pam) wanted to elope because she didn’t want to be the center of so much attention. But, he (Jon) wanted a traditional ceremony. I hadn’t anticipated a future son-in-law would be the one to put me in that dreaded position.

Even so, that wasn’t the big problem. My daughter decided to bend the traditional part. She heeded another discussion our family has had following weddings. “The wedding is your special day. Make it what you want. It will be your memories to cherish.”

Since she was being pressed into a wedding ceremony, she decided her wedding must be fun. If she was going to be center stage, she wanted to enjoy herself and have her guests also remember the event as the best fun party ever. A traditional wedding wasn’t totally out, but it formed only a skeleton for the event at best. She decided to have a wedding based on a theme. Her chosen theme was taken from a song in the Sound of Music: “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.” Some of the songs in the wedding were far from traditional ones. Table centerpieces at the reception were replaced with games which guests were encouraged to play.

I’m happy to say I made it through my one line in the ceremony. And that brings us to the BIG problem: the daddy/daughter dance. Dancing is something I don’t do. At weddings or other events with dancing, my wife and I wait—well, she waits as I wait—for the right song that allows us to simply sway back and forth.

My daughter made an announcement at our house as we talked together about the wedding plans. I was told I cannot choose a dance that would make her cry. No dusting a patch of the floor. No nice and easy final intimate time with my beautiful girl. We pulled out our cell phones and began to google father/daughter dance ideas. We couldn’t agree on anything, and the next few days of texting between her and me consisted of suggestions and replies. The latter ranged from “Too sappy” to “You’re kidding, right?” Then the call came.

“Dad, I’ve decided on a song.”

The tone in her voice prepped me to brace myself. I didn’t know how serious and set on it she was, or if she was getting ready to pull my leg, again. “Okay.”


“Really?” I had already passed on “Yakety Yak.”

“Yes, really.”

I knew I had to be careful how I answered. I searched for the right words and reasons. The answers came back to me. “It’s her wedding. She is creating the memories she wants.” My mind stopped on “A Few of My Favorite Things.” When the children were little, we often sang around the house. Regular tunes included songs from Mary Poppins. Favorites were that song along with “I Love to Laugh,” “Chim-Chiminy,” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

I realized she had paid me a vaulted compliment. Those times constituted favorite things for her. With such a way of being remembered, what could I say? “I’m game.”

On the sly so Jon knew nothing about it, we pulled out the dvd, worked out the choreography, and began to practice. The I-can’t-do-this stood in my way as I tried practicing alone. The I-can’t-disappoint-my-daughter kept guilting me to say, “but I must.” In my mind, I tried visualizing us completing the dance to the praise of the guests. When I shared it with our men’s group at church for prayer more than halfway through the summer, they howled. “Can we come watch?”

“No. But it will likely end up on YouTube and Facebook by some attendee.”

Worry over creating a bad memory for my daughter instead of a fun one hung over me. I lost focus and creativity. I couldn’t write for two weeks. Finally, three weeks before the wedding, the dance started to come together. I began to hope it would be okay. Now that it’s over I would say we were at least some blurred facsimile of the pros. And the burden of this summer has been cast away. Replaced by beautiful, fun memories.

A final note: Pam and Jon walked out of the reception to the tune of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” Before the first tear reached my tux, Pam called out that this is the final dance for the evening and all should join in. I think my wife and I were the first on the floor. Tears gave way to our joyful dance. Goodnight, Princess.

Click here to see a bit of the dance that my sister-in-law captured:


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