I recently moved across the country. I recently left the big city to enter the small town. I recently gave up the hustle-bustle in favor of peace and quiet. And I do not regret it.
It's not perfect though. I would be lying to you and myself if I said it were. It's the little things that I notice and it was the little things that made a difference this past weekend.
I do have a normal grocery store nearby that I use. Save your jokes - it's not a country market. However, there was one thing in recent weeks that was missing and became painfully obvious as time went on. There were no hollow chocolate bunnies.
I don't know how long I've been doing it. Since I was a young kid. At Easter, after searching high and low for hidden colored eggs... After being dazzled by brightly wrapped candies... After getting sick from far too much sugar despite our parents warnings... After all of that was the center piece of our Easter Baskets, a large hollow chocolate bunny. Sure he looked cute with his candy bow tie and candy eye. But he also tempted us. We knew how the day would end: Smash the Bunny.
After supper I would impatiently wait for permission. The bunny would be nearly ripped from his box in eargerness. Gently, he was laid down upon some papertowels or a plate. And with fist balled, he was smashed into pieces. Smash the bunny.
It was a tradition. Not one that had history dating a thousand years. Not one that had some morale or regligious significance. It was OUR tradition. Smash the bunny.
Today, it seems tradition in most households consist of what to watch on Wednesday nights on the television. Or how quick the family will disappate once supper is consumed.
It's the little things that make a difference when we look back. The milestones in our lives are rarely planned. Take some time, start a tradition for those around you. Smash the bunny.
P.S. While visiting my parents this past weekend, the tradition was kept alive by a run to the store. Everyone had a bunny to smash when we got back.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines commodity as "something useful that can be turned to commercial or other advantage."
Despite numerous fairy tales, love has been more an ideal and less a practice. I'm not talking about infatuation ("I think I fell in love with this girl I met last night") or favoritism ("I love Dr. Pepper"). Although there may be real emotions with these, neither displays that magical form of love that people earn for. Love may spring from a reactionary emotion (like infatuation), but real love is a product of work and nurturing.
Instead love is discarded like yesterday's newspaper or worse yet taken for granted.
In the name of God, I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.
Recognize these words? You've probably heard the above (or a variance) at weddings you've attended or on TV countless times. But have you ever REALLY looked at the words and what they mean? Probably not.
Let's break it down:
"to have and to hold"
This is critical and probably the easiest section to overlook.
First of all, "to have" means just that. This is your spouse, not some trinket that you can put on the back shelf and forget about. She/he belongs to you and you should be mindful of that all of the time.
Secondly: "to hold." I can't think of anything you can do that could be as important as regularly holding each other. This is especially good advice for men. Hug your wives. Let them know that "I love you" is not some memorized phrase you say under your breath. Show them that it is an action and that you really value her.
"from this day forward"
This is the scariest part. Modern society puts the time limit on this statement somewhere between 6 months and 2 years. Divorce has become so common that you can say it in everyday conversation and no one thinks anything of it.
Before anyone attacks me, I do believe that there are good and acceptable reasons for divorce (the most notable being spousal abuse - physical, verbal or emotional). Having said that though, I think most couples put in the bare minimum amount of work to keep a marriage alive. Thirty years ago, divorce was not an option: couples worked out their differences. Today, a person is likely to get divorced twice!
"for better or worse"
I have a secret for everyone: Men are not perfect.
I have another secret for everyone: Women aren't either.
I know a lot of you were nodding with the first secret. But I heard the gasp of disbelief from the women out there on the second secret.
What does that mean? It means that forgiveness is a gift, maybe one of the most valuable gifts one person can give another. It's not easy to look at someone you put your trust in and realize they failed you. It's even harder to say "I forgive you." But I already said that love was going to be work. If you want it bad enough, you must be willing to work for it even when it would be easier to walk away pissed off.
"in sickness and in health"
This is probably the easiest part. I'm not saying that watching a love one grow sick and die is easy. It's horrible. I hope I never have to watch someone I love slowly fade away with cancer or such. But as much as I do not look forward to such a time, I know that this would not be an excuse for leaving a marriage or falling out of love. And I believe that most people share similar views.
"to love and to cherish"
This part just mirrors "to have and to hold." Again, don't look at the word "love" and think this is just something to say. It isn't. You must show it. How? I won't sit here and list various ways, but I will suggest one method: don't stop dating. I don't care if you've been married for 27 years, don't stop doing all those special things you did for each other before you got married. You cherished each other then, don't stop now.
"until we are parted by death"
Wow. Can you imagine a marriage in today's society lasting this long? It's a shame that society shows such little respect for its elders. Anyone who can celebrate a 30, 40 or 50 year old marriage should be revered. They have truly done what most of us could not. Perhaps if we would listen to them, we could pick up a thing or two.
"This is my solemn vow."
Marriage is a vow of love.
Men: if your word means anything to you, then when you declare your love, know that "divorce" means you went back on your word.
Women: if you think that men are mostly responsible for marriage problems, you are wrong. Love and marriage takes two and that means you are half responsible for keeping it alive.
If you are unwilling to work to keep a marriage alive, to love each other, then the marriage certificate is nothing more than a commodity. And this type of commodity does not retain its value. At the end, you are left with a worthless piece of paper.
I implore you, if love means anything to you, do not let this happen to you.
For the life of me, I will never understand women and the low self-esteem that seems to be the "norm." Or the duality between what they say and how they act.
People should not be defined by how they look. It doesn't matter whether you're short or tall, skinny or fat, blonde or brunette, or even flat or busty. None of these characteristics defines who you are. These superficial elements do not dictate your ability to be compassionate, honest, courageous, humble, sacrificing, honorable, just or spiritual. All of those come from within and in the long-run are much more important in daily life than how you look.
I expect that women more than men will agree with the previous paragraph. Congratulations women, you're half way there. But it's the other half that seems to be the difficult part for you.
Here's an example:
A man walks up to a magazine rack and picks up the latest copy of Fast Cars Magazine. On the cover is some slinky thing in a bright two-piece bikini that resembles something closer to dental floss rather than swimming atire. In his mind, no matter how attractive the woman decorating the cover is, and no matter how unattractive he is, he thinks he stands a chance with her. He ignores the reality that she wouldn't glance in his direction if she was being cornered by a rabid wolverine.
A woman walks up to the same magazine rack and picks up the latest copy of Woman's Touch Magazine. She instantly notices a woman on the cover (why women's magazines host women on the cover is also a mystery to me) and her mind starts the cycle of self-doubt. The woman analyzes the cover more than any man ever would. The man is still lost in fantasy land while the woman is sadly reminiscing about when she was that size. The woman wishes she could fit in the dress from the cover or that she were that young again or that she could fill out the dress as well. I'm sure the issues only start there.
This is only one example. There are other influences beyond magazines including radio and TV. And all of this leads to a low self-image. A lifetime of diet-fads and constant complaints all directed at themselves follows.
What's so funny is that women are more prone to look beneath the surface when it comes to others, but they can't or won't see it in themselves.
This is not a blanket statement about all women. I have known women who have a high self-esteem and, in my opinion, it makes them MORE attractive than ones that may be physically more like those on magazine covers. I'll tell you right now, I'd much rather have a woman who was 100lbs overweight and happy with who she was, than one that was 95lbs soaking wet and a bitch the next morning. Don't believe me? You can ask my friends.
Disclaimer: The Soap Box is a collection of MY opinions. They don't represent the kind people who are hosting my site. They don't represent the various links I have posted on other pages. Have a rebuttal? Or any thoughts? Just email me. If you have a point and are not spamming or violent in your thoughts, I'll include it in the Soap Box.