One Thanksgiving, we had family members visiting from out of state. Among them were our three sons. Also, our daughter-in-law (married to our oldest son), and our daughter-in-law’s younger sister.

That morning, we noticed something unexpected. Our youngest son and his sister-in-law’s sister seemed to have a special rapport. They were not flagrant in their behavior but it was obvious that they were an item. It could be seen in their glances and smiles and “accidental” hand touches.

How did this happen? When did this happen? I looked at my wife. She looked at me. Our eyes said we had both noticed and were amazed by the situation.

Our youngest son gave his mother a large, brown envelope. She opened it, pulled out a document, and stared at it uncomprehendingly. She showed it to me, and I looked at it in the same manner. It took a few long moments before we realized it was a marriage certificate. It said that our son and his sister-in-law’s sister had gotten married.

We were filled with a confused mix of elation and caution. Our youngest had had a bet with his middle brother about which of them would marry first. It looked like our youngest had won, but not in the manner we’d hoped for.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” we asked.


The young couple shrugged. “We didn’t want to make a big fuss.”

Our family was going to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my wife’s relatives. My son and his bride asked that we not tell anyone they had gotten married. They would announce it themselves later on when they were ready.

As you can imagine, all through Thanksgiving dinner we were nearly bursting with the exciting news. But we were true to our word and didn’t mention the secret marriage.

That evening, back in our own living room, our youngest got everyone’s attention. “I have something I’d like to say.”

We quieted down and looked at him. He smiled at his secret bride, then stammered, ” I want . . . . to tell . . . . everyone . . . . that, uh, Judy . . . . and I . . . .” He paused and took a drink of water. “Judy . . . . and I . . . .”

The suspense was killing us. They what? Oh my. Are they pregnant? I was sure that was it.


“It’s important . . . . that I, uh, tell you . . . . all . . . . that . . . .” He paused yet again. “That I, uh, tell you, that . . . . Judy . . . . and I . . . . are . . . . are . . . . are not really married!”

We all blinked in confusion. Not married?


It had been a joke. He and his “bride” had cooked it up to prank our middle son, who was engaged. The two boys had had a bet about which would marry first. Not only had he pranked his brother, but our youngest had also pranked his parents. The marriage certificate was a well-designed fake.

We congratulated the young non-couple on their acting skills. And on their Photoshop ability.

To this day, it remains the number one prank in a family full of pranksters.

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