It’s Valentine’s Day, and we are being pounded with cards, chocolate, romantic music and dinners. Whether you buy into all of the hoopla, or choose to celebrate your love in quieter and daily ways, you do have to agree that it’s a good thing to celebrate.
Last spring, Roxanne and I went to England and Scotland for our 20th anniversary. We arrived just days after the royal wedding. Estimates say that something like 2 billion people watched as Prince William and his long-time girl friend Catherine Middleton were married in the 1000 year old Westminster Abbey. The truth is, I never thought I would be among their numbers. Roxanne would tell you that I pride myself on staying apathetic towards the lives of the rich and famous. I’m more moved by the less assuming lives of the commoners around me who will never grace the pages of People Magazine.
But there I was, 4am Mountain Standard Time sitting in front of our HD television viewing the royal wedding. How did I get there at that crazy hour watching something I never planned to? Well…it probably has something to do with the fact that my wife has been a Princess Diana fan since her father, a professor of British history, went through the trouble 30 years ago of waking his young family to watch as Prince Charles wed Lady Diana. The memory of that unique family event is still vivid in her mind as something special.
When the alarm rang at 3:30 a.m. Roxanne woke our daughter, her sister and her two daughters, and her mother for the event. Bundled in blankets with tea and biscuits on china plates, they watched. I lay there wanting to fall back to sleep. Instead of sleep, a sense that I wanted to share in whatever was causing my wife and daughter so much excitement prevailed and I stumbled out of bed. I didn’t want to hear about this wedding for years to come without being able to picture what they were talking about.
Humbly I confess, my time was well spent. Let me share some of the things that impressed me.
First, this story is one of hope, happiness and commitment between two people to love, serve, and be faithful to each other…and there were 2 BILLION people witnessing it. Positive stories don’t attract that kind of attention normally and when commoners like me marry, as beautiful and inspiring as it is, only close family and friends witness it. For a day, all of Great Britain, and millions on every continent celebrated marriage.
In the witnessing, here’s what impressed me in order of importance. The Dress! (I’m kidding.) I was intrigued by William’s spurs. Did you see the spurs? My guess is about 1 in every 10 million viewers saw them.
No, for me it was the words spoken by the head of the Church of England. They were beautiful, lofty and inspiring and should be written down for the couple to reference throughout their lives together. It was a time of vows and sacred promises publicly made, (no other marriage ceremony has been so public!)
I loved the tradition that came with it. It was not casual, at least not American casual. It was formal, reverenced, and filled with tradition. The fly by of the World War II fighter planes represented to me victory, freedom, and sacrifice. I admit that I teared up. It was much more powerful than the more modern jets that also flew over because the older planes linked me back to the stories of World War II and what those people endured.
“The Kiss” on the balcony at Buckingham Palace was one of the most anticipated events of the day. Why? My guess is that this public display of affection connects people to all the prince and princess stories of our childhood with weddings, horse drawn carriages, and the symbolic kiss that represents commitment, love, affection and happily-ever-after.
While I know that this is no fairy tale story with a ride-off-into-the-sunset ending, there were so many great take-aways. The biggest for me is that there are moments in our lives when an experience shines. These are moments when our lives are right where they should be and everything works out just like we hoped, or even better. Those highlights are just as real as are the grinding times. Stories like this inspire me to live my life so that my trend is ever upward, closing the gap between the holiday’s assigned for us to show love, and my every day loving rituals. Let’s be there for our loved ones in good times and bad, in sickness and in health.
Here’s to your Happily-Ever-After!
Tim Thayne, Ph.D.
Founder, Homeward Bound