It was a heck of an ordeal to find a babysitter so close to Christmas (a babysitter that could do the job for almost 12 hours! On a Saturday, no less). But it was done, and Mummy and Daddy (myself and husband, who have long since stopped using our real names) got a chance to blow out the cobwebs a bit before Christmas descends in earnest.
The occasion was a wedding of a pair of close friends at the foot of the Waitakere ranges. It was the usual story for weddings these days - a ceremony (beautifully done), followed by a long intermission while the wedding party get their photos done and everyone else gets plastered free of charge, and then dinner, speeches and dancing...
No sooner were the "I Do"s spoken than the heavens opened and a storm descended on the assembled crowds. In many cultures, it would have been a very happy sign that the marriage would be long and prosperous.
But there was no rainstorm required to know that these two people will have a long and happy marriage, acts of God aside. It was all there to see in the bride and groom's assembled family.
You see, they come from two sets of very long-married people. They praised their parents lovingly and long during the speeches; photos of their parents getting hitched were proudly displayed beside their wedding cake. It was clear to see that they are people who grew up in stable and loving homes, with parents who committed themselves to their families.
Maybe there were major ructions in their parents' relationships, perhaps there are terrible secrets that will always stay hidden. Who really knows what other people are doing behind closed doors? But whatever the case, they made a good enough go of marriage to convince their children that the way to go in life was to strive towards marriage and family.
I say this in a completely neutral way. Because while it is, I believe, ideal for both society and children to have happily- and long-married (or partnered) parents, bad marriages have a terrible effect on those around them.
Not everyone can achieve that state of contentment upon which marriage seems to thrive - it is always a work in progress, and there are frequently obstacles.
But I couldn't help thinking that these two - who plan to have children shortly - will no doubt breed another generation of people who believe in marriage and long-lasting relationships and the importance of family life.
In this day and age it almost seems quaint. But despite a sometimes ambivalent view of it all myself, I could not help but admire them for their single-minded dedication to it.
Not so my toddler, however. Asked the next day if he planned to marry, the answer was a resounding "NO!!"
After much prodding, and much asking of what he would do with his life if he didn't get married, he had only one reply.
"I'll get a horse!"
- Dita De Boni
Pictured above: Good marriages can inspire future generations. Photo / NZ Herald