Handfasting: A Peek Behind the Vows

Being a true "daughter of the South," I have spent the past few days in a flurry of
activity, trying to make last-minute preparations for our upcoming handfasting. I
admit it, I am a perfectionist, and I have been cursing the lack of time for
I have been dreaming of a wonderful, truly old-fashioned Pagan handfasting ...
complete with tons of flowers (picked for their meanings), beautiful flowing robes
with intricate embroidery, a feast of food lovingly prepared by coven members ...
you know, the whole bit.
But, reality sets in and everyday life intrudes. Laundry must be done, meals
prepared, floors picked up, scratches kissed and attended to, animals fed - all the
things that make up day-to-day living. And so, I have sighed and fussed and fumed
and squeezed in those moments of preparation where and when I could.
But today, something stopped me dead in my tracks. I was just finishing up some
phone calls to caterers in another state (yes, it is a long-distance handfasting, and
no, I never said I did anything the easy way!), and our youngest daughter heard me
heave yet another sigh as I remarked about needing to make arrangements with a
"I can pick you some more clover. We could use that instead."
That simple statement by her, followed by a hug and kiss, has set me to thinking
this whole evening about what this handfasting is about. Or perhaps, more
importantly, what it is NOT about.
And that has made me think about what our marriage is about.
Of course, it is about love ... I can't tell you how long we have loved each other,
because it feels like we have been together forever.
It is also about friendship. Oak is my best friend and companion, as well as my
husband and lover. We started as friends, and we will continue so through this life
and beyond, I believe.
Our marriage is also about partnership. We didn't come together with the
dewy-eyed romance of first love. Both of us have known pain and loss. Instead, we
have come together as equals, who do not face each other all of the time, oblivious
to the world, but instead  (at least most of the time) face toward the same direction,
working together and loving each other and living together day to day.
Our marriage is about respect and trust. One of the reasons why I first fell in love
with this man was because I had so much respect for him. He had been through a
difficult time, showing remarkably little bitterness, and took on the enormous
responsibility of being a single parent. I listened to his anger, and his pain, and most
of all his courage and strength. How could I not fall in love?
Our marriage is also about sharing, and compromise, and laughter. Believe what
you will, but I am not a big computer nut. I take the approach of "does it do what I
want ...then fine." But as I watch my husband's face, when he sits down to "play,"
I take great delight in his expression ... that of a 5-year-old boy who has been
handed the keys to an amusement park and told "have at it, it's all yours." So I
gladly, and laughingly, relinquish the computer to him in the evenings.
So what does all of this have to do with a handfasting? Because this love is what I
want to share, with our families and our friends. And that is what is important. Not
the flowers, not the robes, not the grand feast ... no, what is important is the joy
and laughter that we will create, and the memories that will live long after the
flowers have faded, the food has been consumed, and the robes have been through
the washer a hundred times.
So, we will join with family and friends soon, in a celebration complete with a
discount-store wedding cake, in-season flowers that are cheap and available,
barbecue and paper tablecloths. We will laugh together, and cry together, and share
moments that are precious beyond gold. And I will attempt, in our vows, to express
just a little of the love that my husband - my beloved Oakdancer - has brought into
my life.
Who knows, we might even have an altar full of purple clover.

Amberflame 3/17/99 

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