Young Love (#114)

November 15, 1969

Nate and I decided to spend the weekend in Champaign. The only wedding detail left to tend to in Wilmette was the groom’s cake, and Mom said her lady-friends were looking forward to taking care of that in a few days.

Groom's cake boxesThe 104 pounds of fruit cake had arrived, and they planned to cut it into 500 pieces, wrap each one in Saran, fill the boxes, and cushion the cake with tiny strips of tissue. It sounded like lots of unnecessary work, but Mom had her heart set on sending each wedding guest home with a “favor.”

I still hadn’t picked up my wedding gown from a shop in suburban Chicago after its final alteration, but they promised it would be ready a few days before November 29. I tried not to stress about it.

There was one wedding detail, though, that Mom insisted I do her way, without even considering my opinion. Years earlier, she and Dad had been on a trip to Sweden, returning with rave reviews about what Swedish brides were wearing on their heads: small gold crowns. Since Dad was 100% Swedish and Mom was half, she had decided to bring that tradition to America – and bought a crown.

One day after Mary was engaged, Mom took us into her room and carefully pulled a blue velvet box down from her closet shelf, while briefing us on the new family tradition she was about to start. She described the pretty Swedish brides and then said, “Many of the state churches there own a crown so that any girl from the congregation can wear it on her wedding day. And guess what. We now have our very own crown!”

The crownGently she pulled it from the box to show us – a small gold headpiece with 12 large points and 12 small ones, each topped with a cultured pearl.

“Through the years,” she said, “all the brides in our extended family can wear it, and we’ll be sharing an important tradition with each other and also with our Swedish relatives.”

Mary and I looked at each other that day, unsure about whether or not we wanted to be “crowned” on our wedding days. But Mom was sure, so all we could do was smile and nod.

Mary is crowned.When Mary’s wedding day arrived in 1967 (right), she walked down the aisle with that crown on her head, and our cousin Gloria wore it again in 1968.

In 1969 it was my turn, and though I’d envisioned my veil attached to something lacy and sparkly, I followed in the cooperative footsteps of the other two brides – and agreed to wear the crown. Actually, it felt good to please Mom, after all she’d done for us.

 

I had only one reservation. With short hair and a veil that would be longer than my train, how was that crown going to stay on my head?

“Work at living in peace with everyone…” (Hebrews 12:14)

Young Love (#113)

November 14, 1969

Young people in their 20’s are living through the most exhilarating decade their lives will ever know. Some are graduating from college, traveling the world, choosing careers, entering the military. Others are getting married, having babies, buying homes, adapting to community life. Spiritual commitments are often made (or unmade) during this decade, and 20-somethings literally pass from childhood to adulthood.

20-somethingsNate and I were no exception. We never ran out of stimulating things to talk about.

Where should he apply for his first lawyer-job? Should we live in a big city? A suburb? A small town? Should we move to his home town? To mine? To a new part of the country? Where should I work? Or should I go back to school? Should we have children? If so, how many?

We were euphoric as we talked about our options. Life had no restrictions, and it seemed we could do anything we wanted. But this belief in unlimited choices, though typical of our age group, had its dangers. In our case it turned out to be too much gazing at the un-decided’s while ignoring one of the decided’s.

3.40It was Friday evening, and Nate and I enjoyed a glass of wine celebrating the many happy decisions ahead of us. Before we knew it, it was 2:00 AM – and then past 3:00. We began to rationalize how practical it would be for Nate to stay in the apartment till breakfast, only a few hours away.

Though we had a rule against him spending the night, most of the night had already passed. Besides, we’d stuck with our decision to remain sexually pure through lots of tempting moments. So we decided he could stay – promising each other we’d “be good.”

But that’s the thing about temptation. The devil whispers a mix of truth and lies into our ears, and before long we’ve stepped over a line we were determined not to cross.

With our inhibitions down because of the wine, our hugging and kissing started to get out of hand. Nate began whispering, “I probably shouldn’t stay.” I responded, “You probably should go.” But neither of us had the will power to pull apart. That’s when something very strange happened.

God has promised to provide an escape hatch when we’re having trouble resisting temptation, and on that Friday, Nate and I were having trouble. Right then, God delivered.

Out of nowhere I heard a car door slam down on the street, and a vivid picture popped into my muzzy mind: Mom…. arriving for a surprise visit.

Logic would say, “Impossible! It’s after 3:00 AM!” But Mom had pulled some pretty crazy stunts in her time. I sat bolt upright and said, “Quick! Grab your shoes and run for the back door! I think Mom’s here!”

“What?” he said in his confusion as he rolled off the Murphy bed and did what I asked. When I heard the back door close behind him, I knew he was headed for his car and his rented room.

I lay there quietly in the dark, waiting to hear Mom’s tap on the front door…. but it never came.

CerealIn a few hours, Nate returned for breakfast. Both of us agreed we’d had a close call – and were thankful for God’s odd but effective “way of escape.” Feeling humbled, we again determined to save our first sex for our wedding night – only 15 days away.

“There’s a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” (Ecclesiastes 3:5)

Young Love (#94)

It’s been a whirlwind 3 weeks since I last posted a “Young Love” blog, and here’s why:

95 Theses.In Germany —

  • Reuniting with my college roommate
  • Meeting new friends
  • Sightseeing, museums, following Martin Luther
  • Visiting other cities, a super-fast “bullet” train
  • Getting lost in Berlin… and found at 3:30 AM
  • Praying, laughing, eating, and “doing the city” by night

 

 

In England —

  • Jonathan.Meeting my 12th grandchild, Jonathan Richard Nyman
  • Renewing relationships with his 5 older siblings
  • Hiking as a family
  • Getting back in action with my co-grandma and the children as “Team Gran”
  • Sightseeing, riding bikes
  • Sharing lively meals
  • Visiting parks and playgrounds
  • Quizzing knowledgeable youngsters about Bible facts

British Nymans

(Hans and Katy with children, L to R: Nicholas, Evelyn, Elizabeth, Andrew, Thomas, and Jonathan in Katy’s front carrier.)

I’m overflowing with gratitude for these loving relationships and the chance to “get current” with each one. Thankfully, the globe is shrinking, and I’m learning the tricks of travel, mostly by making mistakes. It isn’t easy for this grandma to go-it-alone, especially internationally, but God goes with me — the best travel partner of them all.

And now…. back to the story of Meg and Nate as they travel toward their wedding day (and night) in the autumn of 1969:

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September 22–29, 1969

Although Nate and I no longer needed to write letters to each other, our tiny mailbox was still full. Mom sent a steady stream of progress reports on the wedding plans, usually accompanied by a list of questions, and Aunt Joyce mailed ongoing encouragement from California. Nate’s mother wrote, too, with questions about the rehearsal dinner and guest list.

M and M.Mary often sent notes urging me to give Mom honest answers to her questions. “The bride is the boss,” she wrote. “Tell Mom what you want, and don’t let her change your mind.” I appreciated the voice of experience, a cooperative sister-bride who had probably let Mom have her way on almost everything about her wedding — but at least she’d “been around” to take a more active role in the planning. My guilt about being out of town was mounting.

One thing I could help with was ordering invitations, which we hoped to get mailed by November 1st. I gave Mom my choices by mail: ivory colored paper, black ink, fancy script, and traditional wording. I also thought it would be fun to give the lady-guests a chance to wear long dresses if they wanted. When I suggested we add “Black tie optional” at the bottom of the invitation, Mom wrote, “Moody Church people won’t know what that means. The men will put on a black tie and think, ‘There. I did it.’ ” So we added “Formal dress optional” instead, even though we knew not many would take advantage.

The guest list had mushroomed to hundreds, and Mom said the invitations needed to be addressed in my handwriting. But it was debatable if I’d be able to drive home (repeatedly) to complete that task in time. I decided to wait till the invitations actually arrived before hitting the panic button.

“Do not be anxious about your life.” (Matthew 6:25)