We Americans have become great celebrators. We celebrate birthdays and much more. We celebrate graduations, Christmas, and Fourth of July. We celebrate new jobs, departing coworkers, and the birth of babies. And we celebrate anniversaries.
Last winter when the new 2008 year crept upon us, my husband and I started thinking about the fact that this year would complete fifty years since we got married. Fifty years! Could that really be? Fiftieth anniversary? Wait a minute! Fiftieth anniversaries happen to other people. Fiftieth anniversaries happen to old people. Could it really be happening to us?
Since it was, we figured we were supposed to celebrate somehow, but that idea brought frustration. How could we celebrate? Our children live in three states, but even worse, our friends live all over this country. There was no way to choose a single location that would be adequate and appropriate. Our friends in Nashville are still pretty new and mostly surface friends. Yes, we probably still have friends in Dallas where we lived for twenty years, but they were only one segment of the friends with whom God has blessed over these five decades.
Then it occurred to us (remember we’d never done this before) that maybe it wasn’t necessarily our place to plan a celebration. Maybe it was up to others to do that—and that’s what happened. The anniversary itself was on August 5, but it turns out we have been celebrating all summer. Our dear family members have seen to that.
In June, thanks to the generosity of a daughter and son-in-law, it was a week with our three kids and six grandkids at a lodge in the Smokies. In July it was the cruise to Alaska, deepest thanks to Fred’s sister and husband. The first weekend of August my sister and husband hosted us for a dinner party and an outing to the Blanchard Springs Caverns. Friends were there from as far away as Illinois and family from as far away as Albania. My sister lives in northern Arkansas where, in 1983, we celebrated our 25th anniversary with my parents on their 50th. So it was special to be there in the same place for the actual date.
On the afternoon of the actual date, Fred and I drove home to Nashville. Our favorite habit when traveling is to stop in mid-afternoon for a Dairy Queen blizzard. Would you believe that the DQ on our route that afternoon turned up at exactly three o’clock, the hour of our wedding? When we got home that night, our Nashville family came over with golden balloons to tie on our mailbox and coffee cake for breakfast.
But we weren’t finished. Ten days later when we came out of church Sunday morning, our car was decorated with balloons, crepe paper, and big words on the windows, “Just married 50 years ago.” Strangers at Subway that day were so impressed with our fifty years that they paid for our lunch. It turned out to be the doings of our Nashville family again.
Meanwhile, cards were arriving at home, though it crossed my mind briefly that it didn’t seem like as many cards as we might have expected. Oh, well. Our letter mentioning the anniversary had gone out months before, so it must have slipped some people’s minds by the time the date rolled around. That happens to me all the time.
And we’re still not finished. When we arrived here in Dallas last Sunday, our daughter shocked us with a 3-inch-fat scrapbook full of cards, memories, and pictures from those friends we knew were too scattered to get together. In fact, the cards have come from 22 states and seven foreign countries. So that’s where all the cards were that didn’t arrive at our house! Tomorrow night she is putting on an open house for us, and that may turn out to be another whole story.
Finally, Fred and I have tentative plans for a final hurrah, just the two of us, when during October fall colors we plan to make a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway in an eleven-year-old convertible.