Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Giveaway

In the last few months, everything wedding-related has started feeling like a chore. I'm sure my posts have hinted at it, but I'm mostly just overwhelmed with all the responsibilities on my plate. The wedding tasks feel like an joyless slog and April is alternately way too close for comfort and an interminable ways off. Work is demanding more and more of my time and focus, and I arrive home exhausted. And then there's this blog... which I've been neglecting. As we get closer to the wedding, the challenges have become more personal and private, and finding energy at 10 pm to sort through them, let along write about them in a protective way, has been difficult.

Because of all this, I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving more than usual. I love holidays and rituals, because they give me the chance to step outside my everyday routine and really see it for a moment. They allow me to pause and assess whether I'm still moving in the right direction for my goals. And on Thanksgiving, in particular, I have a ritualized opportunity to reflect on all the things I'm truly grateful for.

This week, I wanted to take some time apart from my routine to focus on giving thanks for the muddled complicated glories of my life. And to start off that conversation, I wanted to say thank you to all of you. Thank you for reading, emailing, sticking by when the blog hit a lull or two, and for generally being such amazing wedding cheerleaders.  I feel like I've found a strength here, talking with you, that's infused both my wedding and my everyday endeavors. I'm braver in my wedding choices. I'm more confident in imagining post-wedding writing schemes. I'm a bit more fierce about defending my needs and opinions and a bit more accepting of everyone else's. I'm also humbled by the outpouring of support, feedback, and genuine friendship that's grown out of these words thrown out to the internet ether.

Because I feel so grateful for all the support you've shown me, I really want to give something back to you.  I've been holding onto my Amazon gift certificate prizes from the Wedding Channel competition, wondering how to best use them. Yes, "them." Plural. Because when you voted for me for best real blog, I won a $100 gift certificate. And then, when you voted again and again and again for best overall blog, I won the $1,000 gift certificate too. And I can't thank you enough for that. Beyond the shock and joy of it all, on a practical level, you've all contributed hugely to my financial sanity.  For the last nine months, my computer has been dying a sad, slow death. I've been trying to coax it along, begging it to survive until after the wedding, when we'll have disposable income again. Unfortunately, my computer doesn't care about wedding budget timelines and decided to stop working. But, because of your voting, I'm able to afford a new computer now without panicking. I'll be able to stop borrowing Jason's computer to write blog posts or do work. I am so lucky and so darn grateful for all of you, for so many reasons.

I don't need both gift certificates - I feel blown-away lucky to have stumbled across one, let alone two. After all, I owe them both to you for reading and voting, and so it only feels right to offer the $100 gift certificate back as a Thanksgiving Thank You.  So to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling me a moment when your wedding or wedding planning made you feel lucky or grateful. I know that some of you are still on the fence about whether your weddings were worth it, some are still glowing from the full positivity of the experience, and the rest of you feel pretty mixed overall. But I know there's something, someone, or some moment that hit you as important. So please share in the comments, any time from now through Friday, November 26 at 5pm, and you'll be entered in a giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift certificate. The winner will be drawn at random, and announced next week.

Thank you.

48 comments:

  1. I felt super grateful when my parents tell me that I should choose whatever I want. There's no pressure. They recognize that it's my wedding and just want me to be happy. And I am so grateful for that because I know so many people suffer through arguments with their parents.

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  2. I'm only 8 months into a 16-month engagement, so I have a lot ahead, but I already feel just eternally grateful to my sister. There has been a lot of crazy family drama already, and my sister has gone above and beyond in trying to manage and minimize that for me. She recently finished graduate school, got and then lost a full-time job, and has a very energetic 4-year-old, and through it all she has always made time for me; she even drove 7 hours to be with me for dress-buying weekend to help manage my sometimes-difficult mother. She has been amazing, and I am so grateful that one of the byproducts of getting to marry my future husband is that I am also developing this renewed bond with my sister.

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  3. I feel grateful with every single out-of-town RSPV that we receive for our December 11th wedding. Every time I see that someone from another state has decided to book a flight, a hotel room, and make all of these plans - for US!- it totally humbles me and I have a hard time believing that we are that loved.

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  4. The moment came when my sister-in-law looked at me in August and we were talking about the wedding and I was feeling a bit stressed over getting 155 RSVPs for a wedding we thought would be 130 people. And she just said something along the lines of, "I'm so excited because everyone is coming" and at that moment, I felt grateful instead of grumpy and happy that our wedding didn't feel like a burden to her (she had to house and entertain the OOT guests for a week after our wedding), it just felt like a joy. In that moment, I thought, "eff it, we'll fit 'em, we'll feed 'em, who cares?" And everything worked out.

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  5. Not even engaged, but I am grateful for sites like this and others that encourage me to think about MARRIAGE and not just wedding planning.

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  6. I've felt the most grateful when I am stressed about the minutia of wedding planning, and then either my parents or my fiance help me take a step back & realize how lucky we are to have so many people SO excited to come to the wedding, rather than focusing on how the h*ll we're going to pay to host them all without looking tacky/cheap/whatever other label I'm worried about at the moment. I think I've also felt the most grateful when I realize how easy going and helpful (overall) both sides of the family have been - despite financial restrictions (which 99% of us have), my fiance and I have really been able to make this wedding what we want and have been so supported by our parents, even with some non-traditional choices. I'm so grateful for that freedom.

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  7. The moment when we were milling about the hotel lobby, everyone waiting for the signal to head to the rehearsal dinner. Two families were meeting, people I'd never expected to see in (or near) my hometown checking in at the local Marriott, and it was getting crazy with all the new people pouring in. Within the space of five minutes, one grandmother said "I love your hair - and you're not going to wear it like that for the wedding, ARE YOU?"...and I just laughed. Any possibility of offense on my part had been vaporized by the teeming throngs who were there to celebrate with us, simply because they loved us. Their mere presence enabled me to laugh, rather than stew, at Grandma's comment. An uncle came up to me and said "this is going to get crazy very quickly - let me know if you need anything, and then consider it done". I felt lucky to have family who might give me a hard time but at the end of it all are supportive, generous and loving.

    Then I realized that all those milling people were waiting for a signal, and that the signal had to come from ME. I pulled out the ol' Presentation Voice, projecting across the lobby to get everyone moving...

    ...and it actually worked. For the first time ever, my it's-like-herding-cats family heard a verbal instruction and ACTUALLY FOLLOWED IT.

    In that moment I felt thankful: that I could smile at my ornery grandmother without getting annoyed, that my family was there for me when things got hectic, that people were coming in to celebrate just because they love us, and that I have finally cultivated an air of authority that people will listen to.

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  8. My biggest worry was everyone being stressed out from setting up and not enjoying themselves the day of the wedding (our venue has strict time constraints). My fiance's parents have been gracious enough to chip in for the wedding cost, so we can hire someone to do the majority of the set up on our wedding day and we can relax a little!

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  9. I got married in July and the moment I felt truly grateful was the Friday before the wedding when all my loved ones were donating their time and effort to make my day magical. It was seeing all my plans come to fruition that made me grateful for all the countless hours I spent during the planning period stressing over the little details. You will get past this moment...I promise! All brides go through this phase....and yes, it will all be worth it!

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  10. Becca, you are too kind to do this giveaway!

    I am grateful that my mother and I are finally working past our religion issues. Suddenly she seems on board and we can actually talk about logistical planning, instead of larger theoretical religious issues. This is a major turning point.

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  11. I feel so lucky every time I talk to my fiancé about all the wonderful things that marriage will allow us to do. Talking to him about wedding planning can be stressful, but when we sit down and talk about how wonderful it will be to cook dinner together and eat together every night and not have to drive hours out of the way to see each other, it all makes it worth it.

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  12. My mom helped me wash my hair the morning of the wedding so I wouldn't mess up my nails. I realized that even though we had our differences during the planning, she had risen above it and was determined to make my day perfect. I was so grateful.

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  13. I feel lucky every time my daughter talks about the wedding as "our wedding.". Yesterday, I found a little video she made on my phone, saying "I love my mommy. I love my dad. I love Tony. I love my brother.". That made all of the work and hassle worth the trouble we're going to for this wedding.

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  14. I'm grateful that we had our big wedding after all. I had always been firmly in the elope camp but having a wedding was really important to my husband and he is really important to me, so we had a wedding. And I bitched and moaned my way through every step of planning (I'm charming like that) but it was truly one of the best days ever. Being surrounded by most of our loved ones and the pure love and emotion of the day was fantastic. At the end of the night, I looked at my husband and said "thank you for making me do this" and I meant it. I was so grateful for the experience (and him).

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  15. Finally, FINALLY, we saw a venue that just might work with our micro-budget and that very night I looked into my fiance's eyes and said, "I've gone from heartburn to excitement now, just thinking about getting to marry you."

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  16. It's easy to get caught up in the whole pre-wedding hubub... Ideas start to get away from you and time really begins flying by. But then you get a moment when you remember that it's really about you and your fiance celebrating the start of your lives together as a married couple and you feel extra thankful for the wedding planning experience as a means to that start together.

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  17. I definitely feel grateful that both my parents and his are so super chill about the wedding planning and are more than happy to let us make our own way. I'm 11 months out today so we'll see if this continues, hahah! I'm sure it will though.

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  18. [Best entry procedure for a giveaway ever!]

    I am so so so so grateful for my awesome in-laws. They're such a fun and loving group of people and they've been 100% welcoming to me from the first time I met them. I can't believe I get a whole new family to love on top of a husband. It's too good.

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  19. I'm grateful that my mom is here to help me plan the wedding.

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  20. I'm thankful that while my fiancee is super interested in certain parts of the wedding and definitely has things he feels we need, he told me recently that he doesn't care what I wear, because I'll look great in it.

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  21. Recently I was feeling crazy about finding a venue in our budget that fits with who we are and my fiancee reminded me that where ever we get married, we'll be married. I'm so grateful my partner keeps me grounded and loved.

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  22. There have been many moments I've been thankful for (and some that have worn me down) but I was just thinking this weekend how I am starting to feel compelled to give a mini thank you speech at the wedding ... for the family and friends on "that" side that welcomed me instantly and have made me feel so comfortable and a part of their life. And for the family and friends on "this" side who have made me who I am today and supported me through some horrible lows and a lot of great highs over the past 33 years. And for all of them coming together the weekend before the December holidays to celebrate us.

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  23. I am thankful that neither of our families are pushing obligation guests on us. We are only inviting the people we truly love! It's going to be wonderful eat, drink and be married* with the people that really make us happy.

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  24. Weddings are a lot more work and a lot more stressful than I realized and it totally flipped me upside down a number of times. And then the weekend of our wedding came and I realized how much needed to be done still and I was told 'Don't worry, we'll do it. Go find some food. Go talk to you friends. It's all taken care of.'
    Even though I helped a bit, I'm so grateful for my family for bearing the brunt of the work in the final days, the day of, and the days after. We could NOT have done it without them. I'm so grateful for their love, help, ambition, creativity, and large vehicles. Pure wedding magic!

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  25. One of the most amazing parts of our wedding planning came the night before, during our rehearsal dinner, immediately after one of my bridesmaids told me she couldn't be at our wedding. My godfather offered to step up as my "bridesman," and he did. I felt so overwhelmed by love by him along with all the other family and friends who helped in the final days before the wedding with all the wedding stress- so that it turned out amazingly!

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  26. How sweet of you to "give back". Our engagement session took place yesterday afternoon amidst a rainy day. During a specific shot atop a hill the sun decided to peak out and cast an amazing light over us. The rays felt warm upon our skin & we kissed. In that moment, I felt like the luckiest girl - it was too beautiful for words...

    ninjapandawedding(at)gmail(dot)com

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  27. I felt really grateful when my parents gave us money for the wedding and told us to do whatever we wanted with it-run off to Jamaica, whatever. That is so kind of you to give back! I want to buy Ryan a wedding band for Christmas (he never went out and spent any money on himself and has been wearing a too-small band we got at a junk store), and it's on Amazon so that would rule!

    stacyblogs @ gmail dot com

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  28. About a month before our wedding I got in a wicked bad car accident, totally effed up my neck and RUINED my car...WHILE I was on my way to take my boards step II exam. I failed my exam, obviously. My laptop broke two days later. I felt like the universe was kicking my ass. We were so busted broke from our wedding that there was no money for a vehicle, and clearly no money for a new computer. It made us feel like the wedding was a stupid expenditure with all the drama of real life hitting us in the face so hard. But, we inherited a working car from a family member as a wedding gift...and all was most excellent in the world again. :-)

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  29. We were married on the side of a river (we had to float the river in rafts and kayaks to get to the campsite) and there was a point during the ceremony where I realized how unbelievably, incredibly lucky we were to be able to have this moment. We had 16 of our immediate family and closest friends on the river with us and each person was asked to find something during the day to give to us later during the ceremony. After everyone had given us their 'gifts' that night, I remember looking down at the rock they were all laid out on and thinking, this couldn't have happened without each and every person putting their heart and soul into their found gift. I am so incredibly thankful for how they put themselves out there for us and exposed the raw feelings of love they all had for us.

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  30. I'm thankful for my future husband. He really knows how to put things in perspective and is able to make an argument either way on any issue (which strangely enough helps me make decisions).

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  31. Prior to getting engaged there were some major family issues between my mom and my brother and sister-in-law. My wedding was actually the catalyst for them to come together and resolve their issues so that there wouldn't be any tension at my wedding. I'm so grateful that my family was able to come together and be there on my wedding day.

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  32. The debate over whether to have a large wedding (one that my in-laws and fiance were excited about) versus a small, intimate affair that my family and I supported was an endless discussion- mainly a battle between my person pleasing self and my own actual needs and desires. Fast forward one year and everyone's looking forward to a 60 person wedding 7 months from this week in the city I grew up in (Boston) with some of the most important people in our lives present. The best moment of this whole process was hearing both my future mother in law and fiance determine on their own that all that mattered is the actual marriage and happiness of the moment- how it happened no longer mattered as much. It took a lot of patience but a lot of talking, fits of frustration, and trial and error led us to a place where we focus on the beauty of love and family and not hosting the world's wildest wedding celebration :).

    Becca- as a fellow Jewish Angeleno bride, your blog is inspiring and easy as pie to relate to. Thanks for all that you do- I'm so grateful for your words and commitment to your marriage. It's helped me know that what I want is ok even if it doesn't fit into the traditional wedding industry complex!

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  33. It's hard for me to feel greatful with the amount of stress I'm under right now, but I am greatful for my fiance.
    He's sincerely kept sane during this prcess. I don't know how I would be able to do it all without him.

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  34. Mine happened extremely recently. A couple of close couples to us are getting divorced now and I had a minor panic attack that there was "no way to really know someone" and we're all "doomed." Isaiah has been exceptionally understanding and has talked through everything with me, reassuring me that we will make it. I'm extremely grateful to have found someone who understands me the way he does...who gets what I need to hear when I'm upset.

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  35. I was so grateful when my dad bought his airplane ticket to come to the wedding. For a while I really wasn't sure he'd come because he didn't approve of my fiance.

    hugzeke@gmail.com

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  36. This is the moment when it all came together for me: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_9KCKx7kPHuc/TEu1385AfXI/AAAAAAAAAPI/naisWNtJhBE/s1600/CM_mirror.jpg

    I was burned by a past engagement, so I had been stressed and a little overwhelmed, but seeing us together in the mirror in our venue... It calmed me and I somehow knew that we'd be all right. :)

    I'm grateful for David because he taught me that it was okay to love and trust again. There are happy endings.

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  37. The moment I truly felt the most grateful and blessed during the entire wedding/wedding planning process was moments before my wedding ceremony was about to start. I was standing inside... already holding onto my father... looking out ... seeing my soon-to-be husband there waiting for me... seeing my family and friends seated... talk about a moment of holding my breathe filled with sheer love and gratitude. It was a quiet moment there with just my father and I and one that I will truly never forget. I was filled with so many different emotions- but love and gratitude were at the forefront of them. There is NO greater blessing than just the presence of those you care about and those that care about you.

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  38. I felt so, so grateful the first time I started reading wedding blogs that weren't actually just about weddings, like yours and Lyn's and Robin's and Persephone's. I know this sounds like ass-kissing to win, but it's really really true. You guys have all taught me much more than anyone else ever could about what's coming in the planning stages ahead, how to have a good relationship with yourself, what I can do to make sure I'm taken care of in this big bad world. I have been really grateful to read the words of people who have been to the other side and hopefully I have learned (as I never could from my parents' and grandparents' dysfuntional relationships) how to make my way in this crazy marriage world.

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  39. The idea that me, the "40 year-old-forever-single L.A. girl" is going wedding dress shopping this weekend with my 84 year old mom - well let's just say that the idea makes me want to faint from sheer happiness. I am so grateful to have this moment in my life and I truly don't think I would have realized how beautiful it was had the journey not been so long and difficult.

    Thanks for the blog Becca - you're writing rocks my world!

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  40. We had our wedding in the city where my fiance and I lived, which was quite a distance from where all my bridesmaids lived. I didn't get a wedding shower as a result, and didn't expect much of anything in terms of help since they were all long distance. I'm also often hesitant to ask for help when I know I am capable of doing something myself...

    So I was so very pleasantly surprised and Oh So Thankful when they really stepped into gear the day before and the day of the wedding to help run errands, or find person x or y without me even asking them to help. They were truly indispensable, and helped make the day fun for all of us.

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  41. My parents spent a good chunk of money on my wedding, it wasn't until my actual wedding day and during my father's speech that it all hit me and I became overwhelmed with gratitude. I thank them still frequently for that day and it's been a little over seven months. I could have had just as good of a wedding I'm sure for a lot less money but the fact that they wanted to make it what I wanted was so great.

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  42. I'm so thankful that we pulled off a debt-free wedding because about 2 months after it my husband lost his job.

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  43. We are four months out from the wedding at this point. Being involved in my brother's wedding last month was a great experience -- it was wonderful to see how everyone came together to make things happen and really reinvigorated my thoughts about my own plans.

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  44. Wow, this is incredibly sweet of you!

    I feel like I could start listing wedding moments and never stop. My heart was a giant ball of thankfulness, for so many things, so many people.

    One that stands out right now, though, has to do with the 60 plastic chairs and 4 cafeteria tables I delivered to the venue in my uncle's about-to-breakdown van (which he let me borrow - so grateful for that, too!). I realized too late (like halfway through the reception) that I'd forgotten to arrange for anyone to return the chairs/van. Which had to be done by the next day. I steeled myself to drive that rickety van again, on dark back roads, crossing my fingers it wouldn't shudder and shake every time I hit 40 mph on the freeway (like it did the way there). And then I looked over to where the chairs had been and - poof, no chairs. I asked my sister where they'd gone, and she told me that my uncle and cousins had loaded them and up and returned them already, and taken the van back.

    My heart was singing. And there were so many more moments like that.

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  45. The FH and I went to the church where we'll be married to be blessed last Saturday. It was the first time my parents had attended services there. And we only invited our respective parents to attend and it was just so stress free and awesome. Even dinner after was fun! It made me realize a) this is really happening and b) it will be okay because at the end of the day we'll be married. Now I'm just thinking about April 3rd and how it will be all over (and of course sending good wishes to you!).

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  46. I'm still in the midst of planning, but so far I was most grateful to my future father-in-law. My father passed away when I was a kid, and I am hoping one of his relatives will walk me down the aisle instead. My fiance's dad said that he would love to do it, as a "welcome-to-our-family" gesture. I almost cried.

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  47. I feel really grateful to have such a great mom helping me with wedding planning (especially for some "this doesn't matter" but "this does" perspective!).

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  48. There were a lot of moments when I felt grateful for the people around me (especially my husband) during wedding planning, but here's one of my favorites.

    At Thanksgiving, appropriately enough, my mother-in-law had just given us her (very large) guest list. I was telling MIL about my plans for budget centerpieces and she got this crestfallen look on her face. I thought "oh no, she hates it, she thinks I'm going to embarrass her," but then she said, "Sweetie, I don't want you pinching pennies on things you care about so you can invite all of those people I listed! Just say the word if you need us to cut back on the guests." My husband and I decided early that the big guest list was our budget priority and we'd save in other areas in order to invite lots of people, but I was so touched that MIL was worried about how I'd feel about something as trivial as the centerpieces. I felt so grateful to be joining such a supportive, caring family!

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