The little Christmas party was more of a success than I could have planned. Gloria has since told me that never before in their young lives had they experienced such a "family" event as that! Receiving gifts wrapped up in bright, colorful paper and eating such delicious food was not something they knew about. It was clear that living with this American guy from the U.S. was going to take some getting used to.
Due to it being vacation time at the institute, we had little to interfere with our spending lots of time together. For example, the following day, I "walked" over to their humble quarters and invited them out to a movie. My diary records it as being a Cantinflas flick. Know that I can't understand this most famous of all Mexican comics even today, so you can imagine how much less I would have then, my Spanish being much better now. That wasn't important for me, of course, I was having fun making my future family happy.
Things really began to look brighter for me when three days later, we enjoyed another of our numerous walks in the park, buying comic books, eating hot dogs and ice cream as we strolled along. Upon the moment of departure, the girls surprised me by planting good-night kisses on my cheek on their own volition. And what was even more significant, they allowed me to reciprocate. While one might chalk that behavior up to the goodies received, I prefer to think it was an act of love beginning to shine through.
* *** *
It was left for the absolute final day of the year for another very important event to transpire. Written in my diary, again in red ink as a sign to mark its pivotal import for things to come, are found these words:
what a way to finish the year! With a letter from Gloria's mom giving their consent to our marriage.
This makes it quite clear that some two or three weeks earlier, Gloria and I had written to her parents back in El Salvador, informing them of our desire to get married. In order for our letter to be answered by this day, we would have undoubtedly sent it well before the Christmas party and my receiving my "gift". But not only were we informing them of our plans, we were actually asking for their "consent". There is a teaching in the Bahá'í Faith requiring a couple contemplating matrimony to petition the consent of all parents. Gloria was not a Bahá'í at this time, and in fact, didn't become one until one month after our wedding, when we were by then in El Salvador. But that's not important. Nor was the fact that we were not under-age kids. In order to hold a Bahá'í ceremony, the rule must be followed. End of argument.
Odd though it may seem to many people in our modern society, it is based on the simple tenet of this religion: unity! When the two individuals unite in marriage, not only are they coming together, but also two families are uniting. This is intended to promote harmony among all concerned. Unless and until such consent is granted by all living parents, a Bahá'í marriage cannot be performed. Confusion has occurred in the minds of some parents that this act of consenting implies that they are approving of the religion itself, about which many aren't familiar. Such is not the case. They are merely agreeing to the marriage that their son or daughter wishes to have.
Though I still had not yet heard from my side of the extended family, with that letter received on the final day of 1980, Gloria and I had taken one giant step forward into our future life together.
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