58: A Melting Pot Wedding

58: A Melting Pot Wedding

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Kind (of) America

A Melting Pot Wedding

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.

~President Jimmy Carter

It had rained like a monsoon for two days after Christmas, palm fronds littering the Pacific Coast Highway from the whipping winds. But the morning of our wedding, the sky was a striking blue and cloudless, with a crisp chill in the San Diego air. It was a perfect metaphor for this peaceful marriage-making day, after the stormy ones our own parents had experienced decades before.

In 1969, my parents faced hurtful words and declined invitations from family members who were against their marriage: a Catholic girl to a Jewish boy. In 1972, my fiancé’s parents raised eyebrows and hackles as well: a white Jewish woman marrying a second-generation Japanese-American man.

But that late December day in the new millennium, our clear-sky wedding was a symbol of all that our families — and our country — had overcome in nearly forty years. Those old clouds of intolerance had parted for our generation’s union. Nobody batted an eye at us marrying, though my soon-to-be-husband’s skin was several shades darker than mine. Nobody thought twice about the mix of religious traditions we included in our wedding ceremony.

Our female celebrant invited up my family’s honorary rabbi to give us a Jewish blessing, his hands raised above our bowed heads. Then the rabbi pulled from his pocket a surprise he had solicited — a letter written in the impeccable script of my Catholic grandfather (who’d become his dear friend over the years), with blessings for our marriage from my grandparents, who were too frail to travel. My soon-to-be-husband’s brother read aloud the favorite poem of their Japanese grandmother, a Shinto-sounding ode called “God of the Open Air.”

Looking out into the audience, we saw the smiling faces of family members who had fought for the Allies in Europe during World War II, and others who had spent that war in Japanese-American internment camps. As they arrived at the rehearsal barbecue the night before, they had all welcomed each other “into the family.” Our friends, who covered the spectrum of beliefs and identities — Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, New Age, various ethnicities, politics and sexual orientations — sat together, laughing and sharing stories of their mutual connections.

It was a simple wedding, really. After the outdoor ceremony, we had a light brunch buffet of bagels and salads on paper plates, then impromptu speeches and a slide show, with a Latino friend-of-a-friend playing bright Spanish guitar in the background. But when a wedding guest came up to me at the end and said, “This was truly the best wedding I’ve ever been to,” I believed him. It was more than just a wedding. It was something incredibly special: America at its best, a melting pot celebration of the mosaic that we are.

For that one shining morning, all the storms of past and present conflicts or intolerances faded, a rainbow appeared, and only love was present.

~Megan Pincus Kajitani

More stories from our partners