My niece got married last week in a small park in Cambridge. It was the now common COVID story of a year-long wait from their original date and they used the extra time well – a friend grew the flowers that festooned their home-made chuppah, the COVID precautions were strong and clear, the food was fantastic and they carefully choreographed an “egalitarian, anti-misogynistic ceremony” including two smashed glasses, one under the groom’s foot and the other under a giant boot that the bride slipped on just for that stomp.
Later, after lunch, when a relative’s toast included a joking bet about when their first child will arrive, my niece said, “We reserve the right to make our own reproductive choices while we still can.” Everyone cheered. We were relieved to have a chance to acknowledge at least one of the recent horrors that have filled the news feeds. A little later, my niece made a speech using, as a starting point, the breaking of the glass which can represent the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem or symbolize the sorrow that a marriage inevitably holds. She let us feel our pain with our joy, the bitter with the sweet. We cheered and kept on cheering.
Decades ago, a teacher gave me the formula for clowning as 49% tragedy/51% comedy. Skew that formula too far in either direction and any event becomes thinner, less real, less engaging. Some shards of glass and well-placed barbs made this wedding all the more sweet.