Evince has proclaimed February’s theme as the Voice of Promise. The word promise can mean one of two things. The first suggests potential, as in, “Watch that kid on first base. He’s got a lot of promise.” The second meaning is about keeping your word and is the focus I’ve chosen for this column.

I’ve made a lot of promises through the years and am proud to report that I’ve kept most of them. That may have something to do with the consequences of breaking a vow in my neighborhood as a kid. If we wanted to make sure that our trust wouldn’t be compromised, we sealed it with a pinky swear. A pinky swear is when the parties involved locked little fingers and pulled. There is nothing more sacred than this, especially if you announce your age in single digits and need help tying your shoes.

I knew better than to break a pinky swear because the punishment was pretty severe. We policed ourselves, so the sentences handed out were much harsher than if an adult had been consulted. To violate a pinky swear meant finding yourself on the receiving end of a wedgie. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, let me put this as delicately as I know how for polite conversation. A wedgie means your undergarments are repositioned in such a way that cotton buries in crevices your body would rather it didn’t.

Make no mistake. I’m far from perfect and have disappointed many people, especially my mother. I’ve come home plenty of times to find a clean room even after I’d left a note of assurance that I would pick up my jeans when I got off work. Looking back, she saved more than her share of cats, parakeets, gerbils, and pups that she didn’t want, but I did. The same ones that I had promised to water and feed daily, but hadn’t.

Higher powers offer pledges to us as well. After storms, the Lord sometimes sends a rainbow. It promises that the earth will never be destroyed again by flood. Whether you believe that or not is really immaterial. Turns out we’re quite capable of destroying our world without Divine Intervention.

With Valentine’s Day on the calendar, February isn’t just about promises. It’s also about love. The two go hand-in-hand. Soon my nephew and his fiancée will be walking down the aisle. Like millions before them, they will vow that there is no one else they would rather be with in this life. It won’t simply be words. It’ll be the truth. If ever two people were meant to be married, it is Jessica and Phillip. My family could not have handpicked a more perfect woman than she to be his bride. To this end, our blended families offer them a few promises of our own.

We promise to remember that you will become your own family unit. We promise to share you at holidays and to begin new traditions because we understand that you have more homes to visit. We promise to step back, should the time come, and let you raise your children the way that you see fit. We promise to live and let live, keeping your business as yours and not ours. We promise that we will let you keep your front door shut. Ours, along with our hearts, will always be opened for you. Even though we may have already travelled the same roads you’re about to take, we promise to stay silent, just as our families were for us at your age. This is your time to begin your life together. This is your time to feed your own pets and pick up your own jeans. This is your time to decide whether or not you believe in the promise of rainbows. After you exchange rings and join hands, we know that this new chapter in your life is yours to write, not ours.

We promise to remember that.
We pinky swear.

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