1/04/2010 06:42:00 pm

Happy Party and Snap Holiday

Posted by Tom French |

I seem to have found myself in Canberra, on holiday with my parents, older sister, her husband and his family. I wasn't planning on coming to Canberra but I found out last week that my painting boss is on holidays for the next two weeks, so I have forced leave. But you won't hear me complaining. A year of minimal employment has taught me the many skills necessary for enjoying free time. And I really enjoy free time.

Before we came on the holiday we had Jo and Victor's (Sister and Brother-in-Law's) Happy Party (that is the wedding that wasn't a wedding but just looked like a wedding). It was a very happy party. Hannah, my little sister, who named the Happy Party, was very happy. She loved being surrounded by so many people. And when it came time to dance to the killer play list that Victor and I made, she was conga lining all over the place with any one who took her fancy.

Of course, the Happy Party wasn't really for Hannah. It was for all the Australians who didn't make it to Guatemala for the two ceremonies there. It was a highly chaotic event with the ceremony once again moved indoors due to masses of rain. Although the rain was only the icing on the cake for an event that seemed destined to be delayed and diverted and every opportunity. Still these hiccups didn't really seem like problems, they just made the day all the more amusing and endearing.

I was happy to be there. In some ways I found the ceremony more meaningful six months in to the marriage. Perhaps because you know they know what marriage is now. Marriage vows can sometimes seem like simple idealism when you hear them from two people who have never been married before (as they will probably sound from me if I ever say them). But when you hear them from two people who know what it means to be married to each other, even just 6 months in, it seems to mean more. They've become a more practical reality and need to be a commitment made out of, and in the face of, experience. Perhaps we should have Happy Parties more regularly for experienced couples who now know what their vows mean in practice not just in theory.

I didn't have much of a role in this ceremony. I did, however get asked to pray. In continuation of my slide down the slippery slope of unbidden expressions of emotion, I felt choked up the whole prayer. The people I asked said they didn't notice, but I did. I knew that I was on the verge of having my voice crack at any time, that getting the words out without a quiver in my speech was hard going. The problem was that I love Jo and Victor, I love marriage, and I love Jesus, and I was praying about all three, it was a convergence to make a perfect storm of sentiment to turn me into a blubbering mass of love and emotion. But I held strong and resisted all urges to shed tears. I think my well honed image of insensitivity has been kept intact for just a little longer.

When the ceremony was done, it was a night of speeches, polite portions of food, and large helpings of dancing. It was a very enjoyable night even if I do like to avoid being in large crowds of people I may have to make small talk with.

In the morning we all gathered for a breakfast with the friends and family who had stayed in the area. It was a like a post-wedding gathering of the relationally elite. I was happy to have been invited.

From there my family (minus Hannah) and the Guatemalans all piled into the specially hired chicken bus, and headed off for Canberra. We stopped at a genuine Australian farm where we were treated to some genuine Australian drought, a genuine Australian tractor ride, and some genuine Australian annoyance at wild Kangaroos. However the Guatemalans were very happy to see kangaroos ("kan-gooo-roos") in the wild as was I. I'm not a farmer, therefore I like kangaroos, especially when they're alive.

Since being in Canberra (we've been here a day now) we've been to dinner, a tourist centre, the National Museum and the National Botanic Gardens. Tonight we filled up on Middle Eastern food, had a serendipitous rendezvous with Jess and her Mum, and went up Black Mountain to see the view (of which there was very little).

It's a good life.

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