family

Happy Anniversaries

me and my honeyHandsome Husband and I celebrated our 29th anniversary yesterday.

Hard to believe two people who still feel about 20 mentally – ok, 14 – have managed to end up married this long! It doesn’t matter that our bodies are falling apart and held together these days largely due to vitamins, paperclips and muscle balm, we still feel like a couple of kids that managed somehow to slip and fall into a long and happy marriage. To celebrate, we dragged our creaking bones to our favourite Indian restaurant last night.

We did not exchange cards or gifts (our holiday to Tuscany was gift enough), we discussed plans for a Mediterranean cruise next year for the big three-oh. Maybe we’ll finally get to Greece, if we start saving now.

Anniversaries are a big deal in our house, actually. Most of you probably know that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate holidays, birthdays, etc. We do, however, celebrate anniversaries (and lots of other random, just-because-we-feel-like-celebrating days!).   When our kids were growing up, we always did a family gift exchange on our anniversary. We would spend months planning how we were going to surprise one another.

I still recall the year we surprised our daughter with her first proper stereo… the year we bought our son his first electric guitar, the start of his long and beautiful relationship with music. There was the year my husband surprised me with the entire Sarah’s Garden collection from Wedgewood. The entire collection!  It is still in use today and saved for special dinners. Every time I see the cheeky butterfly painted on the green plate rim, it makes me smile. There was a year the kids bought me tickets to see John Mayer (I have since seen him many times). Hubby was always happy for any year he did not get a new tie. Or a new briefcase. (Men are so hard to buy for!)

Most memorable, however, was when Hubby surprised me with a beautiful, heart shaped diamond ring to replace my wedding ring that was lost.   Two years previous, we had a Tex-Mex party and had served fajitas for 70… but at the end of the evening, my ring was tossed out accidentally when we were all clearing up. I had left it behind the knife block when I served the refried beans, and at some point, a well-meaning hand brushed them off the countertop and into a black bin, never to be seen again. 😦 I was ring-less for 2 years until Hubby replaced it with one twice the size.   (He’s like that, bless him!)

The Big Family Dinner was always the centrepiece of the day.   Our best friends celebrated their anniversary a couple days later than we did, so we always made it a 2-family affair. All 4 kids would plan and execute the meal. The first anniversary meal prepared by the kids featured SouperNoodles (Ramen) and bits of sliced ham mixed in, heaped up on a platter with a bit of panache. Our 10-year-old daughters were so very proud!  We tucked into our noodles and sipped soda out of stemware. It was awesome!

Over the years, the kids got good at the Big Family Dinner.   Really good. Like, 5-star, black tie, marquee and fairy lights good.

When they were in their teens, the 4 kids would send us away for an hour or two, and then we arrived back at the house, we would be greeted by our maitre d’ (now our son-in-law) and shown to our seats. We were ushered to the back garden where, under the light-strung marquee, stood our dining room table aglow with candles and flowers. Our waiter was our 12-year-old son, suited and booted in black tie. He assisted the ladies into our chairs and presented our menus while the 2 girls were busily slaving away in the kitchen, carefully reading their recipe cards and following a strict time schedule.

We would laugh and chat with our besties while the meal got under way, three courses. We had an Italian theme one year, an Oriental theme the next… I seem to recall the best teriyaki salmon I ever ate was prepared by those kids, beautifully presented with crisscrossed lemongrass and ginger shavings. Delicious!

Dinner was followed by dessert – I seem to recall one year having raspberry sorbet served in homemade ginger baskets – and then there would be dancing in the garden, after the kids presented our cards. These anniversary meals were the highlight of the year for us all.

We had some funny moments, as well. There was the time when, at the end of the evening when we saw our guests off, we discovered we had a water leak.  Our foyer and hallway were under 2 inches of water, which I hurried to mop up while Hubby just wandered up to our room singing “Happy Anniversary” to the tune of “The William Tell Overture,” better known as the Lone Ranger theme tune. It was an experience bordering on the surreal. Seriously? You’re going to bed? Now?  With all this water in the hallway???

There was the time… I believe it was the raspberry sorbet night – when all the lads – husbands and sons alike – got in a sorbet flinging contest and the girls, who had worked so hard to put the meal together, were reduced to floods of maudlin tears up in our daughter’s bedroom.   Yeah, that was not one of our finest moments. The sight of the 4 of them, lined up like the naughty boys they were, spattered in pink sorbet and with bits of ginger basket in their hair, is an image that will stay with me forever.   Oh, they were in trouble. Big, big trouble that night!

Still, we look on these crazy moments, the 8 of us, and we laugh and shake our heads. The 8 of us became 10 with the addition of spouses, and then 12 when the grandchildren came along. (To share grandchildren with your best friends is such a gift!) What a life we have had. What a life we have yet ahead!

Happy Anniversary, us. Truly happy.

Mother Hen

© motherhendiaries 2014 all rights reserved

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