Welcome, to the best day of the year. Well, at least it is here. For, you see, today is a celebration of the day my wife’s delusions began….she married me 27 years ago this evening. When I write that it seems like such a long time. But, it doesn’t feel that way inside. I cannot imagine my life, or any life for that matter, without her. She is still “the one and only”…..and, will always be.

Unfortunately, it is not that way for many. I hear their conversations, I teach their children, and I watch the sadness in their eyes. They have set their hopes and dreams on someone who doesn’t take great care of the precious gifts they were given. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to get up each day knowing your wife is no longer yours. Knowing that she wakes up in the arms of someone else while he raises your children. The pain that each morning brings must be nearly unbearable. Beyond that, I cannot imagine how difficult life must be when you know that you will not be welcomed into her bed tonight. You know that if you do get together it is only to keep from fighting. I feel so sorry for these people.

I met a man once who had been married for 75 years. When his wife, who was wheelchair bound, was in the room he was Tarzan. He still stared at her with the elated eyes of youth, yet he was a mere 98 years old. She, on the other hand, sparkled when he was in the room. She laughed, giggled, wiggled, and whispered to him….constantly. They both turned beet-red. To me, he is the man who knows how to love a woman…..not some poor schlep who can only keep one for a night, a day, a week, etc. No, here was a man who not only stayed with her for decades, but he kept her happy….happy, wow what a word. Don’t see that used to describe marriage much anymore…..save the day she receives a too-expensive ring that, just a short time later, means nothing. I guess the expense of the ring in no way equals the love of the man.

My wife, much like me, has changed dramatically in these many years. But, as a couple, we don’t see these changes as a problem, just another source of laughter…yeah, laughter. Sure, knees, hips, backs, feet, etc. don’t work quite like they once did, but did we really expect them to? We don’t look the same either, but should we? The laugh lines around her eyes, show years of teary-eyed peels that lit the room around her. And, every where I look…and I do look closely….she has become more beautiful by the day. Unfortunately, her husband has retained his beauty….or, serious lack therof. No, I am not aging as gracefully as I would have liked, but I am still here…..mostly functional, yeeha. Yes, we have changed, but then again we haven’t. We are still trying to get away, by ourselves. We are still the ones giggling in the audience, while everyone else is quiet. We are still the ones looking forward to just another minute together, stolen from a day jammed with way too much to do.

My big fear, if you could call it that, is that we may be on the downhill side of all this. Few couples live long enough to see 54 years together. This life just doesn’t seem like it will be long enough to know her completely. No matter how much I long to do so. No, but I promise that I will cherrish each and every one that I get between now and eternity, for I share it with “the one and only”.

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It is amazing how the simplest things take us back to childhood.  If we are careful we are able to see the amazement in the eyes of others.  This past year Disney released “The Little Mermaid” again, this time on DVD.  Along with the release came another round of merchandising.  Because it is my daughter’s favorite Disney film we went crazy….Little Mermaid this, Little Mermaid that….most, not all of it was very inexpensive.  Today my daughter received all of those gifts….not anything fancy…just simple plastic doodads.  And, for many 20-year-olds this would have meant nothing…save the fact that her parents didn’t care enough to buy “real” gifts.  Yet, if only for a few moments, the little girls who squealed with delight so many years ago at Ariel’s escapades returned for a visit.  I was able to see the glee of a 6-year-old again in my living room.  For, if only for a moment, she had returned.  The anxious, hurried, studious, and driven college student was replaced by the sparkling hazel eyes and dimpled hands of the little girl from so long ago…..  It is amazing to see this happen to her.  It is amazing that so many of us have lost the ability to return to our youth, even if only for a moment.  We have lost the joy and amazement that the eyes of a child can see.  We stare at the world through eyes, often, that have grown cold and lifeless through years of drudgery.

And, we believe that is all that the world now offers.  We have lost our true inner child.

Freud spoke of the inner child as though it was an unruly part of ourselves that was difficult to tame,given to fits of selfish abandon.  Maybe our inner child is more.  Maybe it is our ability to let go of our facade and view life through eyes untainted.  Without the worry that someone might see our reactions.  Without the worry of losing face.  Most of the small children I have known do not get too upset about being wrong, failing the first time, or looking too silly.  But, as adults we cannot do so.

As we age we take on the mask of adulthood and begin to play the roles that the mask requires quite often without questioning what has been lost.  The mask blocks our emotions from others and therefore from ourselves.  We lose so much when we can no longer laugh with the child within over silly things.  How do we expect the world to be a better place when even our emotions are hidden?  Are we that scared of one another?

I know I have been frightened many times to think that someone might be able to see through the mask that I wear so well.

Might they be able to see the me on the inside?

Unfortunately the world has taught many of us to shield ourselves, and our emotions, from a world that seeks to make us its victim.

We have learned that life can be cruel and hard.  We have learned that too often life cannot be trusted to take our most heartfelt emotions with the care then deserve.  Who taught us this?

It seems to me that it wasn’t “life” , but it was those who lead the way.  Those older than ourselves.

Through their actions, choices, and fears they left a legacy of fear, distrust, and often hatred.

The question, then I suppose, is what are we leading our children into?

Are we destined only to see the joy in their eyes as infrequent episodes within lives hidden behind a mask?

It is my hope and desire that you, and yours, share the joy of life together in this season of celebration.

Take off the masks an laugh with abandon.