Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Weird Wedding Traditions

As of October first, Hubby and I will have been married forty-two years. In a row.

In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d share a few bizarre marriage traditions from around the globe.

In the history of my husband’s home community, the story goes of a young bride who was kidnapped by friends—all in good fun—following the wedding ceremony. The so-called friends decided it would be hilarious to use a tractor’s front-end loader to lift the young woman to the top of a haystack and leave her there. They hadn’t figured on the bride chipping one of her front teeth. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a tooth.

The custom, known in America as a shivaree, was common in the American Midwest farming communities prior to World War II and varied from town to town. Further digging tells me it probably found its roots in France, where the word “charivari” is a French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade by pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds. The couple was then expected to host the gathered crowd, providing food and drink.

Mauritania is a country in northwest Africa where one marriage custom could not be more opposite from ours. In preparation for her wedding, a bride intentionally tries to gain weight, even going so far as to attend a “fat camp” where she packs on the pounds, disregarding her own health. Why? Because carrying extra weight on your wedding day is considered good luck.

If you are a groom in South Korea, your friends may not allow you to leave until they remove your socks and shoes, tie your ankles together, and beat the soles of your feet with a dead fish or bamboo sticks. Locals believe this practice, called Fаlаkа, makes the groom stronger in his marriage and family life. If you decide to try it, you should know the fish of choice is dried Yellow Corvina.

If you are a bride or groom in parts of rural Scotland or Northern Ireland, you might be subject to a custom called “blackening.” One or both members of the couple have all manner of disgusting slop poured over them—the stickier the better—before being loaded into the back of a truck and paraded around town. The reasons behind this are not clear, but I can’t help wondering if it involves vengeful ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. At least the event occurs several days or weeks before the wedding, so there’s plenty of time to clean up.

If you’re planning a more rustic wedding, you might want to try an old German tradition known as “baumstamm sägen,” the ritualistic sawing of logs by the bride and groom. Sawing a log in tandem symbolizes the couple’s ability to work together in accomplishing tasks that take collective strength and a lot of endurance, as most marriages often do. I think I like that one!

In a recent conversation with a wise friend who happens to be divorced, I heard her make an intuitive statement along these lines. “People should buddy up for life, no matter what. That way you always have someone to help you through the thick and thin. You can ease each other’s old age. Marriage was a really good idea.”

Yes, it was. Maybe not the crazy customs, but the spirit of it for sure.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Not a Fan

This weekend will mark the official start of fall—the favorite season for a lot of folks. You know the type. They live for sweaters and cozy firesides and curling up with some kind of pumpkin spice hot beverage. It’s not that I mind those things, but really—who gets to do that sort of stuff? For me, fall means a sad end to my favorite season and an increasing dread of my least favorite looming on the horizon. Sure, the fall colors look pretty, but when those leaves fall and the trees stand bare and bereft…well, it’s just plain sad. I find the honking of the geese a forlorn and haunting sound. I mourn the surrender of my sandals, shorts, and cute summer tops. It’s too cold in the house but I’m too stubborn to turn on the furnace this early. And when I’m cold, I’m grumpy. Hubby says I have a three-degree tolerance threshold, but he is wrong. It’s much closer to three and a half degrees.

On the up side…
Having said all of that, what I’m enjoying most about this particular fall as a retiree is the privilege of staying home. I suspect that will become even sweeter with the next season. When my writing hours are accomplished, I enjoy creating a simmering pot of soup on the stovetop or pulling something fragrant from the oven—which in turn, helps heat the house! I look forward to the end of yard work and garden care. I’ve begun a new crochet project to justify time wasted on TV, and I’ll be pulling out a little fall décor to brighten the atmosphere as well. Perhaps a scented candle will lift my grumpies too. Lauren DeStefano said “Fall is the time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” I shall try to embrace it.

Back to routine
We humans need our routines, don’t we? My husband is back at his teaching job, giving our mornings a more defined schedule. My outside involvements with Toastmasters and the Prairie Players are in full swing again. Speaking of our local community theater group, watch for posters for the fall production November 20-23. This year is the group’s fiftieth birthday and we’re celebrating by bringing the equally aged production of
I do love the trees in my neighborhood
Mary Poppins to the stage! Mark your calendar now and watch for more info.

Safety rant
It’s time for my annual rant about farm safety. I realize harvest time is nearing its end for 2019, but sometimes it’s in those last few days when workers are most vulnerable. If you’ve enjoyed a safe harvest so far, it’s easy to become complacent. Everyone knows what they’re doing. Tasks can be completed automatically while you’re thinking of other things. You’re exhausted from long hours and little sleep. It’s tempting to skip important steps. Now is the time to be more diligent than ever. Don’t allow one careless moment to result in an anniversary you’d rather not have to remember for the rest of your life.

A promise
“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.” (Joel 2:23)

Friday, September 13, 2019

The China Cabinet

In 1979, I was living with my husband in Longview, Texas when my parents came to visit. One of the places I wanted to show my mother was a cluttered antique dealership I passed every day on my drive to work. I’d never stopped there myself, but I’d spotted some items I felt sure would capture Mom’s fancy.

I wasn’t wrong. She loved it! What I didn’t expect was that Mom would purchase a china cabinet. She had wanted one like it since she was a little girl. With no space in their motor home, my parents had to leave the china cabinet at our place, and Mom decided right then that it would be mine one day. We got to enjoy it for the next three years.

When we returned to Manitoba in 1982 with all our earthly belongings stuffed into a cargo van, the china cabinet came with us. We had also acquired, for free, a solid oak WWII surplus desk. (Side note: I love that I write novels set during WWII at this desk!) We laid the china cabinet on its back on top of the desk, stuffed with towels and bedding. Along the way, we stopped for a month in South Dakota where Hubby helped relatives with harvest. By this time, I was chasing our toddler around and carrying baby number two. We unloaded only what we needed and left our van packed to the gills. When we headed for Manitoba in November, we reached the Canadian border near closing time. The customs officer took one look at our overfilled van and said, “I ain’t goin’ through all that stuff. Get outta here.”

We arrived a couple of hours later at my parents’ house in Portage la Prairie. Mom’s china cabinet was finally home.

It moved with her to Winnipeg in the late nineties. When Mom downsized five years ago, the cabinet went to my sister’s house back in Portage where it displayed her collection of nativity sets. Now my sister is downsizing, and the china cabinet stands once more in my home. Since our kitchen already has a built-in cabinet for such things, I don’t need the old girl for china. Instead, we placed it in my office—an arm’s length from the old desk on which it once rode over two thousand kilometers. It displays the books I have for sale and my writing awards. I think it looks great!

Keats wrote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I don’t know about forever, but this china cabinet still has many good years ahead of it. Barring a house fire, I’ve no doubt it will be here long after I shuffle off this mortal coil. Maybe it will even hold china again someday.

But for all its history, memories, and beauty, the lovely china cabinet is only a thing. As much as we value it, Mom, Sis, and I would gladly exchange it if doing so meant we could change things we cannot change for ourselves or our loved ones. If the cabinet could buy perfect health, peace of mind, or eternal life, we’d trade it in a heartbeat. If it could mend the wounds that break our hearts or fill the voids left by those we’ve lost… well, I guess everyone would want it. Then I’d have a new set of problems, wouldn’t I?

I’m grateful to know the true source of all healing, peace, and life, and the one who paid the price for them. His name is Jesus. He’s pleased when we learn to love people and use things. Getting it the other way around leads only to misery.