Once upon a time there was a little girl…
Have you ever noticed that all fairy tales start with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”? But before they get to that part, they have to through some trials. So it is with life. We usually remember the ending but we forget the middle.
Take Cinderella – she had to deal with the death of her father, followed by mistreatment by her step mother and step sisters. She worked hard, doing everything she had to do. Her spirit was strong and she was brave. She never lost sight of her dream to marry a handsome prince, and in the end, she overcame all of the difficulties to meet and marry her handsome prince.
Snow White was so beautiful that her stepmother was jealous and commanded that she be killed, but her cheerful spirit won over the knave who was to kill her and he spared her life. She worked hard in the home of the seven dwarfs, ate a poisoned apple and slept until awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince.
Sleeping Beauty was cursed by a wicked fairy with a sleeping curse that caused her and all the members of the palace to fall asleep when she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel. She too was awakened by the kiss of the handsome prince.
Fairy tales are popular, because they not only resemble life, but also have a strong, positive message. The story I’m going to tell you starts out with a “once upon a time”, and it ends with a “happily ever after”, and, of course, there are some difficulties in the middle.
A Little Girl
Once upon a time, there was a little girl. In typical Cinderella fashion, her dream in life was to grow up, fall in love with a handsome prince, get married and have children. Now when this little girl grew up and decided it was time to get married she started looking around for her knight in shining armor. Since she was in a small town in a rural area, there were lots of horses around for the knight to ride but finding the knight in armor was a little more difficult. She checked out one “knight” after another, until she finally discovered one that stood out a little. He had a convertible……”hmmmm,” she thought. “Maybe this is as close as I’m going to get to the shining armor.” So she chose to marry him.
She looked like a fairy tale princess in her lovely white gown, but the wedding wasn’t exactly a fairy tale wedding. Their reception hall, although a grand house, was not a castle. There were no dwarfs, or wicked step-sisters, or evil fairies casting spells, or even fairy godmothers; just a cast of friends and relatives who gathered to witness the I do’s.
Once the wedding was over, the knight and the princess started to settle down into the “happily ever after” part, but the knight felt the need for further conquests and decided to quit his job with the bank for another job and so he and the princess moved into a dungeon. Well, actually, a basement apartment. It wasn’t too long after that when their landlady decided that she needed the apartment. It was to be for her son who was returning home, so they returned to her parents’ home where they lived in a small 9 x 10 bedroom for a month or so. Her knight decided that prospects would be better in the big city – Ottawa.
While he was job hunting and they were apartment searching, they lived with his aunt and uncle. Unfortunately his uncle was an ogre who started the day with beer and his Siamese cats were allowed to jump up on the table and eat from his plate. After 3 weeks they moved to the Chicken Little motel where they lived for the next 6 weeks while they continued to hunt for their “dream castle”. Good apartments were few and far between, so when they discovered a clean and airy one-bedroom apartment, they grabbed it as they walked through the door.
Their possessions were few, but they were happy. They had a place of their own. They lived in that apartment with their bed, their two laundry hampers, their card table and a few pots and pans for a while before they purchased a couch, some curtains, and eventually some dressers. They later moved to a two bedroom apartment in the same complex and then on to a new house in the suburbs just after their first child, a son, was born. Now they could live “happily ever after” in their “castle”.
But wait, there’s more. As the knight travelled around the country on his various quests, his eyes began roving over the other fair maidens around him. He chose one or two to sample while his beloved waited at home with their child. Although there was a second child on the way, the knight no longer felt the same and after she was born he began a long-term affair.
His beloved, not knowing that she had been forsaken for another, naively believed that his business troubles were what were causing him stress. She believed this for almost four years and was pregnant again when she found out the truth. Although he accompanied her to the hospital for the birth, she was alone with her child a few days later.
Because she believed in the vows she had made, they reconciled and moved to a small town in a rural area, but it didn’t work and he moved out again. She worked part-time and raised her 3 children despite problems like the plumbing freezing in the winter and having to pump from an outside pump, not being able to do laundry and having to heat water on the oil stove. She definitely was feeling like Cinderella as she swept the floors and kept the stove operating.
She knew the story of the 3 little pigs and so she tried to keep the wolf from the door so that he wouldn’t come and blow in their house of sticks. And although sometimes she felt like she really needed a break, she did not ever consider taking the children to the woods and leaving them for the wicked witch with the gingerbread house to find.
She carried on and once again tried reconciliation with her knight in rusting armor. This reconciliation resulted in a pregnancy – their fourth child. Things seemed blissful for a while, but then realizing that he was continuing his unfaithfulness she chose to ask him to leave.
Once he was gone she continued working full time while raising her children. She did not have the luxury of staying home with her youngest children and she was disappointed, but she knew that she had to support them the best she could. She warned them not to open the door to strangers so that they would not end up in the wolf’s stomach like the little goat kids did. Although she was handy with a needle and thread, she didn’t want to deal with stitching up a wolf.
She encouraged and loved her children and supported them in a variety of activities such as skating, hockey, basketball, volleyball, music, dancing, and baking gingerbread men. She wanted them to enjoy their life and use their talents to be the best they could be. And so they did. She could not always protect them as much as she wanted to, but she loved them as much as she could”. Sometimes it seemed like the Pied Piper lived at her house as the neighborhood children all gathered there. It was not unusual to see 8 – 10 kids there at any time. People even stopped by wondering if she was the old lady who lived in the shoe and if she wanted to take on more kids to look after.
The years passed much too quickly and her children began to leave home to go on to further education or employment. Two of her children had children and all of a sudden she was a grandmother. She thought she was much too young to be a grandmother, but it allowed her to have fun with them and not be too stuffy. She didn’t ever want to end up eaten by the big bad wolf however, so she never requested any baskets of goodies be brought to the house, although it would give her an opportunity to meet a handsome woods man.
As her last child left home, she thought that now she could live “happily ever after” with her books, her sewing, her crafts, her friends and her computer. What she realized was that she had been living happily ever after all along. You see, “happily ever after” is a choice we make every day. We choose to be happy or sad — to have a pity party or a “just because its today” party. Happily ever after is a state of mind, not a set of circumstances. As she began to understand, she decided it was time to share with others what she discovered so that they too could begin to live “happily ever after” wherever they were in life.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The first step to a great life is to fill your life with a positive faith that will help you through anything. The second is to begin where you are.”
Too many people are waiting for something to happen, some event that will allow them to live “happily ever after”. “When I win the lottery, when I get that new job, when I get that new car, when I meet a wonderful person,” and so on and so on.
In closing I want to remind you that you too can live “happily ever after” despite your troubles, despite your past experiences, despite whatever circumstances you find yourself in. It’s up to you to choose. Choose wisely. As Zig Ziglar says – “Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday really did end at midnight, and tomorrow really is a new day.”
To making the right choices