Opinion: Finding Meaning


Happy Birthday to the Beautiful Wife

Have you noticed how goodness in a society flows from the bottom up? Consider the institution of marriage—the foundry for our families, the foundation of our nation. Love, sometimes born in an inviting smile, can happen in a magical moment. Marriage, however, is a marathon, a journey of highs and lows, sometimes in need of support. Which leads to a story you might appreciate.

Twelve women, mostly Laguna girls, have a life-long friendship group that began in their school days. It’s modeled after a group some of their mothers enjoyed. They get together, share books and recipes, exercise, go to the beach, and stay in touch. A special feature is a tradition when a child is to be married. The women, joined by their husbands, have a dinner to honor the bride and groom—a more intimate prelude to the wedding reception. All contribute to a cash gift to help the newlyweds get started. A dinner highlight is when the young lovers share the story of their courtship, which leads to everyone reliving the sweet moments of their own romances.

The dinner tradition includes each couple sharing advice learned from their own marriages. As their marriages have matured, the counsel has likewise matured—a repeated sharing of their collective wisdom. The brides and grooms listen carefully; one groom made a lasting impression by writing down the received counsel. A common theme is the importance of putting one’s partner first. An added benefit is those giving the advice are now prompted to walk the talk in their own marriages, with their closest friends as witnesses.

After several decades of these dinners, the unmarried children are dwindling to a final few. What remains, however, is an ever-growing village living the proposition that marriages should be supported. Which brings us back to the opening declaration that goodness in a society flows from the bottom up—and another story.

Some decades ago a wise brother-in-law decided his wife, my elder sister, deserved not just one day but a week of celebration for her birthday. The week is named for her and features a special surprise event or gift for each day. The tradition has spread around the family and this past week I’ve been on deck for “Huber Week” (the maiden name of the girl I married, better known as the “Beautiful Wife”).

The BW deserves the best Huber Week I can manage. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating—thanks to the BW, life has steadily improved over the years since we married. To do justice to Huber Week strains my modest abilities; it takes a village. Would you please join me in wishing the BW a Happy Birthday? There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach”. Email: [email protected]

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