Uncles have a unique spot in the family tree. We are there, watching the children grow up. We aren't the main support, but we're still part of the framework. We've watched this life grow from a tiny belly bump, to a big belly bump, to a really big belly bump, and then the phone calls, and suddenly there is this newborn, red squally infant, already looking for support and wisdom. One minute you're holding a stuffed animal and making silly noises, and then you blink and suddenly you find yourself answering question after question and it's 'My God! This is a person!' And then you blink again and you're at an elementary school recital. And junior high. And then suddenly you're looking at prom pictures and chatting about colleges and jobs.

I like to think that uncles fill the gap between parent and friend.

We aren't always the ones changing diapers or wiping noses. We're not there for every single ball game of karate practice, but we're there for birthdays and family dinners, we're tossing a ball back and forth with you at the family barbeque. We show up on holidays with gifts, and maybe have a beer or two. We're the ones who tell you the stories your parents are embarrassed about. Like the time your father and I got drunk and went to a strip club. No, just kidding, that didn't really happen. But bottom line is we are family, we are a branch on this family tree and we're watching it grow. We are all bound by blood. And as time goes by, friends may come and go, but family is forever. That doesn't really sink in until you're an adult. Until you've lost some people in your life, and come to realize how important family is. Until you've watched your children grow up with your siblings' children and find yourself seeing bits of your parents in your nieces and nephews. Until you realize that you are ready to step in if something were to happen, without a second's hesitation, if needed, and raise your nieces or nephews. Or change a flat tire.

So here I am, trying to write the uncle of the groom wedding speech, and I'm trying to think of what to say. I could rattle on about things that happened when you were six, or eight, or ten. I could share some of my favorite holiday moments, or birthday memories. Maybe that's later, after I've had a few. Just kidding. But I guess what it comes down to is that this is our family, this is our family tree, and it's just grown another branch. We are lucky to welcome another wonderful soul into our family.

I'm looking forward to holidays and barbeques. And cake. I'm looking forward to seeing moments that will pass as the family grows, and I'm looking forward to holding the next members of our family. The roles we play in family's change as time goes by, and I am more than thrilled to have gone from uncle to uncle of the groom. Congratulations.

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