Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Very Merry Un-Anniversary

Today Beloved Spouse and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. We've been married four years.

Which may raise some eyebrows among those who know that Precocious Daughter is 12 years old.

That's unpossible!
But I assure you that she is not the sinful spawn of a couple of spiritual slackers. In fact, it is precisely because BelSpouse and I have been married four years that our 12-year-old daughter is genuinely legitimate. 

Let me explain.

No, really, it's good.
Twenty-two years ago this April, BelSpouse and I stood before a justice of the peace, my parents, and a stuffed moose head and promised to love, honor, and cherish 'til death do us part and also not deliberately do anything to hasten the death part. We were incredibly young, incredibly broke, and incredibly in violation of Catholic law.

You're doing it wrong,
JPII was heard to say.
Marriage is a sacrament. And just as you can't get into heaven if you're not baptized and you can't tuck into the consecrated wafer until you've made your First Communion, if you don't get married in a church in front of priest, you're not married. So sayeth Rome.

Not exactly, but probably it vexes him, too. Sure, why not?
Well, BelSpouse and I weren't exactly regular churchgoers back then, and we were living 1,000 miles away from our families, and the idea of having to plan and participate in a formal wedding kind of made me want to puke. I was a free spirit, man. Actually, it was open enrollment for benefits at my job, and if I wanted to get Beloved Fiance on my health insurance, we had 30 days to get hitched. So we hiked down to the county courthouse and did that thing. Yep, that's the romantic story of our fairytale wedding.

It was like this in our minds, OK?
Flash forward nearly a decade, and now it's Precocious Baby makes three. Yeah, it took us almost 10 years to start a family. Hell, it took us six years to buy a car - some things can't be rushed. And when PDaughter arrived, our long-dormant Catholic guilt surfaced like Godzilla rising from the Sea of Japan. We looked at each other and exclaimed, "We have to raise this child in the Church!" There was some kind of implied "or else" there, I'm sure, but it slips my mind. Something about the fires of hell, or incurring the wrath of BelSpouse's grandmother, or something similarly frightening.

Godzilla would be less intimidating.
But we did the right thing for once in our profligate lives. We started attending Mass with our child, we got her baptized and taught her to cross herself and stuff a dollar into the box to light votives at the back of the church. And of course, we sent her to CCD so she could make her First Communion.

Actual unretouched portrait of PDaughter. I accidentally slammed
her wings in a door one time, and she's never been the same.
The preparations for First Communion were going swimmingly. And then BelSpouse and I were summoned to our pastor's office.

Holy shit your pants.
Now, our priest was the Best. Priest. Ever. He was smart, kind, dignified, soft-spoken, and personable. He intimidated the crap out of me. And he told us, with infinite patience and gentleness, that the Bishop was pissed off that our daughter was about to make her First Communion when she wasn't even legitimate because we weren't really married. And the Bishop was making his, the Father's, life miserable because of our sinful life and bastard child.

That's how it sounded to me, anyway. It was probably more along the lines of "We'd like you to have your marriage blessed by the Church so we have it in the parish records." Maybe.

It was hard to hear after my soul hit the floor.
Long story short...too late, good point. But we had a brief ceremony in the chapel on March 1, 2008. PDaughter was there, along with BelSpouse's sister and her family as witnesses. We took the opportunity to exchange the inexpensive ring I had been wearing since our engagement for my grandmother's diamond ring. The Father made it all official and pronounced us man and wife, for reals.

It was, if anything, less impressive a ceremony than the first one, and there weren't even any taxidermied animal heads in attendance. But most important, the diocese, the archdiocese, and the Vatican were all informed that the Baudelaires were no longer a worm-ridden boil on the sacred body of Christ.

And we don't really go to church much any more, because I'm sort of sick of all the BS that passes for religious doctrine these days.

But PDaughter is a full-fledged Catholic who can take Communion anywhere in the world and is free to inflict the same fate on her own children, God willing. That makes me happy.

And BelSpouse and I are married in the eyes of the Lord, so He can just get off our backs about that. And we have this cool secondary anniversary that we can celebrate. Not that we ever do. Hell, when you've been married as long as we have, it's hard enough just to keep it going without having to commemorate shit all the time.

Now tomorrow...tomorrow is Darling Dog's birthday. There's something to celebrate. I'm thinking of a catered black-tie reception with a DJ. He's registered at Petco if you're interested.

Happy Anniversary - sort of - Beloved Spouse. I love you. Stop nagging me about going to Mass. Seriously.

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