Let’s live another day.”
This is a line from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. One of the characters has announced his engagement and upcoming marriage. Life was tough in the early 1900s in Russia, where the population was poor and most people barely eked out a living, and on top of that the Czar would order pogroms at nearby villages. So the men in the tavern celebrated the good news of the upcoming wedding with a drink and a toast: To Life!
What’s the big deal about weddings, anyway?
Our wedding was nearly 40 years ago — we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary on Nov. 11. Our wedding was small. We were already living in Ohio, but our families and friends were in Nebraska, New Jersey and Massachusetts. They would have to travel a long way to come.
We planned a small ceremony. It was held outside, at Bellevue Reservoir 5, near our home in rural Monroeville. We didn’t want to make a big fuss, but our parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, and even a grandmother and an aunt and uncle managed to come, on short notice, to celebrate with us.
And now, earlier this month, my niece in New Jersey got married and the same thing happened. We gathered and we celebrated. My daughter from England was there to see her cousin wed. My son, his wife and their two young sons came from Dallas. My other son and his girlfriend flew in from California and my daughter who lives in Cincinnati also flew there for the weekend.
This one was a fancy, big wedding — my sister and her husband went all out for their daughter, with more than 150 guests enjoying hors d’oeuvres, drinks (open bar) and a sit-down dinner followed by dancing.
How does the most intimate pledge — two people promising to spend their lives together — become such a public event?
Because it is a happy occasion. Because we need to gather to celebrate the joys in life, not just the sorrows. Because a wedding is not just an event between two people, but also the bringing together of two families and a couple’s lifetime commitment to weather every storm together. This most recent wedding of my niece was officiated by my niece’s yoga instructor from Cleveland, who talked to my husband about the Browns. It contained rituals from two traditions — the breaking of the glass under the ceremonial canopy and the surrounding of the couple with a cord — rituals joined together just like the families joined together. It didn’t matter that it was starting to drizzle in the sculpture garden where they got married surrounded by the statues of the nine muses. Nothing mattered but the joy of the moment, the joining of the bride and groom and the families, the promise of their future (maybe children and eventually grandchildren) and the chain of life continuing.
Was it worth the 500-mile drive each way, the exhaustion of returning to Norwalk Sunday night and then going to work Monday morning? Absolutely worth it.
Celebrate? Of course celebrate. To life!
Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at [email protected] only wish my parents were alive to see how the family continues to grow.