Bleary-eyed and yawning, they watched the long procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. They listened to the homily from Rev. Richard Chartres and the vows conducted by Rev. Rowan Williams. Then they watched as the fair lady and the young prince sealed their vows with a kiss.
Listening to the gushing hyperbole of the television commentators as I went about my usual morning routine, I recalled a similar set of circumstances some thirty years earlier.
It was the Summer before my first year of Kindergarten. My brother and I were kept at a day care center operated by a bunch of idealistic college girls from nearby Penn State University. The beneficiaries of funding from the federal Head Start Act of 1981, their focus was in getting low-income kids exposure to reading and writing skills before they started public school.
(Of course, my brother and I could both read by the time we were each three years of age. My relatives swear I could read by age two and that I taught Mark to read soon after, but I don’t remember that happening.)
So because we didn’t have to participate with the rest of the group’s curriculum, we were often turned loose to play with Tinkertoys or Legos or whatever else we could get our hands on. Which brings me to the point of this digression…
Being barely five years of age, I was not sophisticated enough to understand that this was all purely ceremonial. That this prince and princess were little more than figureheads, and not even of my own country.
Still residing in that world of make-believe, where a chivalrous knight braves treacherous journeys and fierce dragons to rescue his lady fair, I took this episode to be wholly significant.
A beautiful princess was marrying a handsome princess, surrounding by elaborate pomp and ceremony. That’s about all I understood.
Being pre-school age children as we all were, the event overshadowed all our play that day. All the little girls were princesses that day, and so all the little boys had to be princes. I recall there were numerous such weddings that day at our school.
All foolishness aside, I came away with a picture of something… of marriage.
Though I could articulate nothing of these concepts, I saw marriage as something venerable, even holy. The elaborate ceremony of a wedding signified the sanctity and reverence with which one should hold a marriage.
Again, I may not have been able to wholly understand this idea then, but a thin outline sketch of it was readily available to me. Ready to be reinforced with further instruction and personal experience, the instruction of my own parents in their marriage and others I encountered.
When my wife and I attend weddings of those we know and love, rather than tuck our younger children off in the nursery or with a babysitter, I want them there with me.
I want them to see that a wedding is a momentous occasion, and that a marriage is something more than “friends with advantages” or simply cohabitating with a significant other.
My hope is to model this in my relationship with their mother as well, that they learn something of the depth of commitment which exists in a marriage.
A sacrificial relationship between two people and a life built together for a far higher purpose than one’s own personal satisfaction.
So in the early pre-Dawn hours of Friday morning, my wife got the kids up to watch the royal wedding of Prince William to the former Catherine Middleton.
Bleary-eyed and yawning, they watched the long procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. They listened to the homily from Rev. Richard Chartres and the vows conducted by Rev. Rowan Williams.
Then they watched as the fair lady and the young prince sealed their vows with a kiss.
Come what may of this royal marriage, I want my children to have a basic picture in their minds of the “other-ness” of weddings and, thus, to marriage… which my wife and I can then augment with the example of day-to-life before them.
That, even in our “highly enlightened” modern existence, “happily ever after” is alive and well.