Ceremonies mark passing of time

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

I went to a Clovis wedding not too long ago. My friends Ms. J and Mr. J got hitched.

It was a small affair in the bride’s parents’ back yard. The blessed couple was happy, the vibe was good, I was glad to be there.

There was a time that I wasn’t a big fan of ceremonies. I’m the guy you heard about who didn’t want a marriage ceremony, who would rather party than “do the walk” for graduation. And funerals? Forget about it.

I think this goes back to being a fidgety boy. I have trouble sitting still. Here in the 21st century someone would probably say I had “attention deficit disorder” or A.D.D.

Back when I was a boy it was just fidgeting or, as my grandmother would say, “Boy, you’ve got ants in your pants.”

This was a big problem in church. I never got smacked or anything, but boy did I get those squinty-eyed, scrunched face looks. Well, come on, sitting on hardwood seats in a necktie, then you stand and sing, then sit and listen, then stand and sing, then sit and listen and so on. That stuff was hard on a fidgety boy.

Then as a grownup I had to deal with adult ceremonies. For the longest time I didn’t understand the need to get married. I figured if two people cared enough about each other there wasn’t any need to involve a bunch of other folks like family, a minister and folks who issue marriage licenses. I grew up in the Woodstock Era, the memo on what makes up the building blocks of society did not make it to me.

And then there are funerals. I don’t know about your family but funerals in my family haven’t seemed to be much about the person who has passed away.

At my grandfather’s funeral my grandmother and great aunt seemed to be in some kind of weird competition over who cared about him more. This might explain why the three of them played dominoes all the time.

At my father’s funeral, people seemed to be more preoccupied with the whereabouts of my sister who was up in Washington, D.C. working on her doctorate. Back home after the ceremony the atmosphere was more festive than I would have expected, probably the closest thing to a wake I’ve ever attended.

There was a minister in Roswell who set my head on straight about ceremonies. I can’t remember his name, but he was at one of those big stone churches close to downtown.

“We need them,” he said. “They mark passages in our lives. Christenings, baptisms, graduations, weddings, award banquets and funerals — they’re all mile markers on the road of life.”

This guy was all right. He talked about life in terms of roads and rivers like I do.

I think back on ceremonies I’ve enjoyed, like when I became an Eagle Scout, and when I was yanked out of a campfire circle to be in the Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts.

I remember my high school graduation. It felt good to walk up and get that diploma. Weddings, my kids’ christenings, funerals … I saw their importance.

It’s just like the man said: They’re milestones on the road of life. I’m probably still going to fidget and have “ants in my pants” though.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: