“Temptation in a Punch Bowl,” Ensign, Apr. 1977, 61–62
The only two people I knew at the reception were the groom and his mother. She and I had become good friends at the hospital where we worked. Her son Brian looked so manly and handsome in his tails, with his lovely bride, Belle, by his side. How proud his father would have been if he had lived to see this day!
“Sign here, please,” the young lady in pink and cranberry said to me as she passed me the quilled pen. After signing the guest book, I looked around, and, of course, joined the line to greet the newlyweds.
After wishing them well and meeting all the members of the bridal party, I spied a vacant chair across the room and hurriedly claimed it as my own.
“Would you like some punch now?” a young girl asked.
“No, thank you,” I replied, “not now.”
The reception center was exquisitely decorated, with pink and cranberry crysanthemums highlighting the decor. At the south end of the hall was a large table displaying the wedding cake, and to the right of that a large round table featured a cut glass punch bowl and large goblet-type glasses. Many people were lined up there.
But near the orchestra, in a corner, was a small round table with a hobnail milk-glass punch bowl and cups with balloons tied to the handles. The balloons were cartoon characters: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, and others. “Why is the unspiked punch always so far away from the rest of the proceedings?” I wondered.
How thirsty I was! But how could I go to the unspiked punch table and get a glass of punch with a cartoon character balloon attached? A whole group of little people—flower girls, the ring bearer and his companions—were lined up. I wondered if, just this once, I could hold a regular punch glass. I wouldn’t drink the spiked punch. I stood up.
“Here is your punch, lady,” I heard someone say.
“Oh, no thank you,” I said again, “not now.”
I sat down again. What would be so wrong about one drink? But I knew it was wrong, so the “why” didn’t matter. I remembered my visiting teacher saying just last week that we must not make little compromises because we do not always know what may trap and ensnare us. Well, I’d have to decide soon or have the feeling of choking to death on the dry cake I’d taken off a tray.
Standing up, I hesitatingly started toward the spiked punch bowl. Then I went back and sat down again.
The inward battle raged on. Think what I almost did!
As I sat there, I began to hum the hymn tune, “Choose the Right.” Now what made me recall that tune at this time? Finally, feeling like a giant among elves, I took my place in the kiddies’ punch line.
I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and a teenager rhetorically asked, “Sister Rempp, is this the kiddies’ punch bowl?”
“Why Neil, how nice to see you! Yes, of course, this is the kiddies’ punch bowl.” His shy grin lit up his whole face and his brown eyes twinkled. We talked and laughed and enjoyed our punch out of our unusual cups. I had a Pluto balloon tied to mine and Neil had Minnie Mouse tied to his. After we had visited a few minutes, some of his friends came up to us, and one of the fellows said, “When we came in and Neil saw you, he told us that you were the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. Then, when we talked about having some of the spiked punch, he really put us in our place. He said we were to follow your good example and remember who we were. Besides, you might tell his mom.”
I felt weak in the knees. How close I had come to stumbling, and taking many with me. I could hardly wait to get home and give proper thanks to my Heavenly Father for the special help that he had given me. Never again would I be hesitant in my choices.
Just a week earlier Neil had accepted a call to go on a mission. And two days after the wedding reception he passed on to a very special mission, being the victim of a fatal, untimely accident. His mission came through, only the area had been changed. Neil was an exceptional young man, in looks, ability, and moral standards. He had succeeded here, and I will be forever grateful that in this instance I had not failed him.