‘Twas the Night Before….Lockdown?
As the hours until Christmas day dwindle, the arrival of the holiday always brings a reflective mood. I actually enjoy the hours just before bedtime on Christmas Eve the most. Memories of Christmas Holidays of the past…. piles of toys…..Christmas dinners, or even thoughts of simple, good old-fashioned conversation and time spent with loved ones come to mind.
You see, the hours just before bedtime on Christmas Eve are the most tranquil to me. You know, the shopping is all done. The presents are wrapped. Relatives have arrived and have gotten settled in the guest rooms. There is a general “slowing down”…almost a pause…as the world (it seems) recognizes that it’s time to be still and think about the birth of Christ.
It was on a night like this, and at such a time as this a few years ago that I decided to “Pop the Question”. It’s funny how the resolve came to me. I had it all planned out very cleverly. My mother was visiting with me. She was in on the “surprise”. Well, I had to have a “witness”, right? We had just settled down from a “whirlwind” of activity in preparation for Christmas Day. The house had wonderful warm aromas wafting throughout. The fireplace provided a warm glow to the living room, and my mind was racing. I had rehearsed what I would say in my daydreams leading up to Christmas Eve.
I had created a poetic proposal in calligraphy lettered on what was fashioned as aged, stained parchment. It had the appearance of a scroll, and I had carefully tied a red ribbon to secure the document in its closed position. This scroll and a few other items (too private to mention here) had been selected to complement what I hoped would be a memorable experience! My Mom and my “intended” were sitting in the living room chatting away as I entered with my treasure chest and placed it prominently on the coffee table. The next few moments went by so quickly! All I remember is that the two of them ended up in tears, sniffling, and I was triumphantly holding my beloved in my arms, smiling, trying to console her….and, with other thoughts and feelings of elation coursing through my mind, wondering “What in the world have I done?!” There was no turning back now, boy!! I had said it in front of my Momma!
Please don’t ask me to recall what I said. That’s why I made sure to videotape the whole scene. This was a “Zenith” experience for me. How am I supposed to remember the words? I’m quite sure that what I rehearsed got pushed into the background somehow as I perspired and looked at the floor as I was getting down on one knee. What I do remember, however, are the three words that she offered to me through her tears in response to my request. “Yesss…(sniff, sniff) I will.” That’s really all that I wanted to hear. That’s all that mattered at that moment. We had entered into a verbal agreement to become united as husband and wife….for whenever she wanted to set the date. I had done my part. Yessirr!! I was ready.
Now, if you’ve read the title above, you might assume that the following paragraphs will be filled with negative commentary and my personal musings of “proposal remorse”. Contrariwise, I would like to posit that I am wiser, stronger, and more mature in many ways as a result of my actions on that night. What I will acknowledge is that my journey toward that night was filled with trepidation. I imagine that it is similar for many young men who are unsure of what the future holds as they step into this new role of “husband”. I mean, hey…I was quite happy being a bachelor! I had friends, social and occupational networks that worked for me. I understood the rules that I had made for myself…and I played by those rules. Life was good! So, now how do I make a marriage work? What if I’m not good at it? What if I can’t make her happy? What if I lose my job? Worst of all, what if after I say “I do” I actually meet the woman I was “really” supposed to be with?!
Yes. Yes! All of these questions and more whirled through my mind from time to time before I took “the plunge”. Seriously. There is no “Googlemap”, “Tom Tom”, or GPS for navigating one’s way to “marital bliss”. I think this is one reason for all the negative colloquial terms which are applied to getting married; “Tie the knot”, “Taking the Plunge”, “The ball and chain”, and to pull from the hip hop scene- “Turning in your ‘Playa Card’”…just to name a few.
An interesting article in USA Today reports that the divorce rate is declining. The marriage breakup rate is now reported to be between 40%-45%.* Whether due to declining marriage rates, or decisions by married couples to stay together and work through their issues, I believe that this news is promising. On either side of the equation there seems to be more thought about the decision to marry and/or the decision to divorce. Perhaps what I didn’t understand fully before the night of my triumphant proposal is that the knowing (regarding marriage) is in the doing. This is to say that the answers to your questions are to be found as you take the journey into matrimony with your new bride. Some things can be planned for ahead of time. Some things you have to figure out as you go along. The mental exercises that I went through are a natural, if not disconcerting, part of the process. Being committed to the person that you love and being mentally and emotionally invested in your relationship may manifest in such ways. How do I know? Someone married told me.
The bad news (or good news…depending on your perspective) is that I am not unique in my desire to utilize the Spirit of the Yule Season to offer a proposal of marriage. Somewhere out there across the country tonight young men will bend their knees and pour out their hearts in various expressions of heart-felt sentiments, begging and pleading to be removed from the life of “freedom” that they now enjoy. To all of you out there I say “Congratulations” and “Don’t worry. You’ll be just fine.” Take it from someone who is already married.
Happy Holidays and Blessings of the Season to you and yours!
*Source: USA Today-On Deadline http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/05/divorce_rate_fa.html