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No such thing as "Happily Ever After" in the real world?

October 18, 2009 - Jennifer Brookens
Has our society become so jaded that a real life "happily ever after" story must've been fixed? Sadly, that answer just might be yes, at least if it's on TV.

Thursday a virtually unknown family in Colorado was on the minds of everyone watching news coverage of what was believed to be a renegade weather balloon where a six-year-old boy decided to stowaway onboard. Everyone shuddered in fear when no child was discovered once the balloon landed and there were reports of something seen dropping from the balloon while it was in flight. Then the ultimate happy ending: the child was found hiding in the garage, afraid he was going to be in trouble. Every parent was breathing a large sigh of relief, maybe even shedding a tear or two thinking of their own children.

Except the skeptics, such as my husband. "We gotta be living in a bizarro world if a child can get swept away on a balloon," he said earlier. The next day, reports of the family's past with reality shows came to light, and the six-year-old's own words, "We did it for the show," raised eyebrows and doubts. (My husband says that Friday, "I knew the whole thing was bull.")

In 36 hours, this family went from being unknown, to having the world's sympathy, to being the town pariahs for pulling a stunt to gain attention for a possible reality show pitch. Now criminal charges are being filed against the family.

And I gotta admit, I'm a little miffed too. It's every parent's worst nightmare that something horrible can happen to their child and they can do nothing but watch helplessly. This was a crazy example, but a disturbing reminder how quickly life can turn your world topsy-turvy.

But before we get too jaded, remember there are smaller happy endings each day that don't always make headline news: the near misses on the roads, survivors of cancer and other illnesses, and the soldiers who return back home and reunite with their loving families. Real people with real happy endings who may not get 15 minutes of fame out of it, but are happy and grateful all the same.

It's a shame some people believe a miracle has to be over-the-top to be worthwhile for recognition. Even worse that fame should be the only reason for a miracle.


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