We have no set traditions for our anniversary. Sometimes we go out to dinner. Sometimes we go to a bed and breakfast. Once, when we lived in a house with an unfinished basement, I secretly hung blue tarps and made a room. I hauled down a mattress and decorated our makeshift get away. I called it the blue lagoon. In another part of the basement I made a restaurant and movie theatre.
This year we invited the kids. After a candlelight dinner for six, we pulled out the video of our wedding. The audio was bad, but looking a little younger, there we were.
Tigger was relaxed, grinning from ear to ear. The priest was back from retirement and extremely nervous. It didn’t matter. He could have passed out and Tigger would have held him up and given him his lines until it was over.
I was in a different state. One step onto the carpet and I started crying. Except when I was speaking or singing the hymns, I couldn’t stop. I have never been so scared in my life. The video proves that I was there and that everything was beautiful. I’m glad of that. I cried again the next day because I truly couldn’t remember any of it except for the music and my smiling groom.
“Twenty years,” I told my beloved in advance of the wedding. “I can’t say forever. I’ll give you twenty of the best years of my life. After that, if it’s hell I’m out of there.”
He said he would take twenty.
“You’re only saying that because you have no idea what you’re getting into,” I said.
My goal when we were dating was to find a good father for my children. It seemed easier to stay objective and what was true love anyway? I hated the idea of becoming one. It sounded like you got married and ended up only half a person. A real prize in the world of the romantic I was.
The wedding was perfect, even if I can’t remember it. We had stunning taste in music and despite the crying bride, that groom’s joy is still contagious, even on low quality video sixteen years later. I sat in my living room with Tigger and the four greatest gifts of our marriage, overwhelmed at the mystery and miracle of it all.
Here we are. Together like it was always meant to be. Surrounded, pushed down, filled up, and overflowing with the blessings of love bigger than the sum of us.
“I’m good for forever now,” I said some years ago. “I’m glad you stuck with me.”
“It’s been worth it. I’m glad you said yes,” he said. “And by the way, I’ve got no regrets, but you were right. I had no idea what I was getting into.”
I vaguely remember in the lead up to Christmas feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about unfinished lists. Blissfully fuzzy now are all such silly things. I remember the gifts, too many to count. In the telling I am happy all over again.
This year we got three days of an odd snow and freezing rain combination right before Christmas. Holidays can’t be ruined by weather, but it can make them sing a little more. I watched the rain come down and felt a little melancholy about the inevitable destruction of good skating ice on the pond.
Christmas Eve (twas the time for cleaning madly) I opened the outside door to see my daughter’s boots thrown on the snowy ground. Irritated, I commanded into the cold for her to come and explain. She didn’t answer. Her brothers smiled and pointed.
Girl one was skating. All over the yard, around the house, and out into the pasture. Instead of melting the snow or leaving divots all over the place, the freezing rain had hardened six inches of snow into a very hard and smooth surface. Christmas day kids were sledding, skating, and Cross Country skiing, all on the same hills and fields, sometimes side by side.
My favourite gift was a song. Boy one on the piano, girl one on the violin, boy and girl two singing. The First Noel. A surprise performance for me.
The day after Christmas, we went to see my brother and his family. We didn’t fight moving from beds to car. For most of nine hours travelling, we were kind to each other. We have no idea how it happened. I feel asleep that night with gratitude (and wonder). Two families of six (who see each other twice a year) were in a three bedroom house for days. The joy inside me was so loud, I hardly heard the kids.
I love my sister-in-law to death. I also find her organization inspiring. I started sorting and organizing the night we got home and for almost the entire next day. More order and hope are already flooding the place as I head into another day of home improvements.
In closing, the commentary department:
I am in the laundry room. Boy one puts his arms around me from behind.
“Thanks. What’s that for?”
“I feel like I’ve been a jerk today. I just wanted to say that.”
Mid morning on the first, So what if I can’t marry a Dutch girl (like my brother did) at least I can learn from one cleaning day. The girls had cleaning rags in hand. I was arranging shoes. “We’re like Cinderella,” said Girl one. “We work all the time, but we’re really happy.”
During our anniversary celebration, discussion of marriage commenced.
“You guys fight a lot,” said one cheery voice.
I wasn’t sure how to take the appraisal. It surprised me. I was deciding how depressed to feel when boy two interjected, sincere and insistent.
“Mom and Dad don’t fight a lot, Mom’s just right a lot.”
Ah, my young shining knight . . .