Thursday, August 19, 2010

True Fairy Tales

This post is sort of an extension of my last post on Star Wars, where I was arguing for the validity of fairy tales and stories with happy endings-mixed among other kinds of stories. But after coming across yet another quote that classified fairy tales as an escape from reality into an idealistic world where things are more magical than the "real world" really is, I felt compelled to share a secret-

Sometimes, life is magical. Sometimes, fairy tales do happen.

You'd have to be the most narrow-minded person in the world to deny that suffering and evil exist, but is there any fairy tale that doesn't include some kind of suffering? I can't think of any.

I'd like to tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl named Joanne. She was young and had never really fallen in love, but when she did, she imagined falling in love with a tall, blond, handsome man. One day she was walking home from school with some friends, and they were joined by a mutual friend. Joanne, they asked, have you met Charlie yet? Joanne glanced over. Charlie was just like she had imagined her Prince Charming-tall, blond, and handsome. Joanne was realistic, though, and put the incident out of her mind.

Later, Joanne was at a church picnic. Her whole life, she had hated snakes. For years afterwards, she hated snakes. Which is okay because Indiana Jones hates snakes too, only she didn't know this because Indiana Jones didn't exist yet. But at this picnic, Joanne found a garter snake and suddenly had the urge to pick it up and tease the other girls with it. The other girls shrieked and ran, and it attracted the attention of some of the boys, including Charlie. He wondered who this girl was, chasing the others around with a snake.

He decided to get to know her better. They dated. When they got serious, he let her wear his class ring. One night, after a date, he pulled his car in front of her house. "Hey, do you still have my class ring? I want to see if it still fits me," he said.
Joanne handed him the ring. In the dark she couldn't see what he was doing, but he put the ring back into her hand. "Here you go," he said. But she could feel-though she couldn't see it-that the ring was different. It was an engagement ring.

The engagement was difficult for both of them because Charlie had been drafted into the army. Both were overjoyed when he returned and they finally celebrated their wedding. They lived long and fulfilled lives, raising three grandchildren and seeing seven grandchildren grow up. They all lived happily ever after.

You may have scoffed at that last line. Their lives certainly aren't perfect, but I don't think of "happily ever after" as meaning "perfect and with no more struggles," but "and they lived on to have many more adventures." Joanne and Charlie have been happily married now for over 55 years. I asked Joanne on their last anniversary (though I knew the answer, I just wanted to hear her say it) if she loved my grandpa as much as the day she married him. She responded without hesitation, "I'd say I love him more, because it's a deeper love."

Yes, Charlie and Joanne are my grandparents, and yes, every detail in this story is true. Other couples in my family have wonderful fairy tale stories, which I may share later.


  1. Just happened to find this post and it's such a beautiful story!

    I think people tend to think of fairy tales as pretty and good, hence why they are often used as analogies when positive things happen in reality. But you're right - no fairy tale is without suffering, and no real-life story is either. At least, none which are worth telling :)

    1. It's actually kind of amazing you found this post and commented on it-my grandmother, Joanne, just passed away last week, and her memorial service was today. I'll miss her, but I was reminded of how fortunate I am so have such a wonderful legacy in my family-grandparents who are such a testimony of love and faith.

    2. Oh wow, such sad news. I'm sorry for your loss. But you're right, it is a wonderful legacy and you're keeping it alive right here by sharing it.