It's become one of my favorite events during the holiday season, and also, one of the most important. Each passing year, in fact, I'm more and more convinced that this little gathering, which takes place in the privacy of one of our homes, just might save the world.
The annual wig and nog and glog party begins, as all parties do, with an invitation, followed by a trip to the thrift store, sales rack or attic in search of the zaniest head gear possible.
This party is not for the glum. Only the merry are invited, and merry we are this night. You can't help but be. There's a reason for all our smiles, which I'm getting to, soon.
But back now to this idea of saving the world. It's a bit ambitious, right? One most will say is as crazy as the head gear we wore at this year's festivities. (My husband and I are in the back row, left.)
It's a big idea, especially when considered from the outside, not to mention downright laughable! But on the inside, something else entirely is going on, because this party is all about marriage, and why we keep saying yes to it, over and over again, despite what the world seems to want, despite what sometimes seems logical, despite all the difficult moments.
We say yes, like Mary, who did not know in her "yes" all the joys and also trials that would come about because of that one word. Nevertheless, she said yes, and it is in large part because of that that we are saved. Because without Mary's yes, the savior would not have been born. This is a fact of the most sizable proportions.
Our Marriage Encounter group has become more precious to me each year because I sense more and more the erosion of marriage, of the yes, of the hope of what the union of a man and woman can become. It is only through marriage that children can come into the world and be enveloped into a unit that ties them with their mother and father. Marriage is how our world has flourished. Each member within that unit becomes irreplaceable to each other. This is a big idea, and it's real.
So every time we celebrate this seemingly impossible pairing of man and woman that often expands to include others, which leads to a world that is growing rather than fading, we are adding something valuable to the cause of the world's sustenance.
We're not here to judge those whose lives did not lead to the ideal. Ours didn't either. We're just here to say the daily yes can lead to a beautifully fulfilling life that's worth reaching for. We all come to it broken, but hopeful, trusting mightily in the Lord and His promises.
Everyone in the group has a story to share, and the details are no less perfect than the blue, pink and burgundy strands of hair on our heads. But through God's grace, and only through it, we are survivors, you might say, and we are here as witnesses to attest to the fact that it's worth saying "yes" to marriage, even when it's not easy.
Our evening always ends with a rousing and very competitive game of "The Newlywed Game." It's a blast to try to guess how our spouse has answered a list of questions posed in another room out of our ear shots. Though there is only one victor, we all go away feeling like winners just because we are still here, despite the odds.
We leave filled up on eggnog, glog and other Christmas treats, and walk out the door inspired at having seen, once again, the impossible in action, and ever more hopeful for what can be when the "yes" to one another becomes a living thing.
Dear Lord, please be with all those whose marriages are hurting this Christmas. Let them feel your hopeful, healing love. For those who are trying their best to say "yes" each day, be with them, too, in the daily struggles and joys. Help us be a witness to others, that in us, others might see a spark of something good and worthy that can only come from your heart. We cannot do this without you, Lord, so please, be with us now and always. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Roxane Salonen
About the Author
Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com