After the anniversary ring/missing-found diamonds miracle, I was looking at my wedding band today, observing how different my loose-skinned, veiny hand looks after all these years. Unlike the hand, the ring still looks pretty good despite all it's been through. I recall sitting in the Carousel bar in New Orleans a few days after our wedding, when a friendly stranger sitting on a bar stool next to us struck up a conversation. He remarked that we must be honeymooners because our rings were still so shiny. Amazing observation! Who would notice that and make the connection? The guy had to be a salesman.
We got married on the day after Christmas in 1970. It was probably the worst day of the year for a wedding, but it was the only day we could fit into my winter break from teaching and still have a week-long honeymoon. The ceremony was very modest - we got married in our apartment by the mail order preacher upstairs, with just parents and a couple of friends, including my best friend to this day, Gladys, in attendance. And then we took off on our drive to NOLA, excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.
I've never regretted that modest wedding ceremony. The people I loved most were there, and we saved a boatload of money and hassle. But I do regret that our anniversary falls on the day AFTER the biggest day of the year. Who in the world feels like celebrating on that day? You've spent all your money on Christmas. You're tired of eating rich, gut-busting food and drinking copious toasts. You just want to chill in your jammies.
And nobody else remembers it's your anniversary...you hardly remember yourself! We have always tried to think of something special to do to commemorate that distinct day. How about a movie marathon - take in all the new movies released at Christmastime? We always made it to one movie and then decided to go home. Dinner at a posh restaurant? food...bleh. Dancing? that ship sailed a long time ago. I always thought our 50th anniversary would be a celebration of a lifetime - with family and friends aplenty toasting our half-century attainment with barely contained exultation. But COVID. We did go out for a nice dinner in a sparsely populated local steak house. (Our server was unimpressed that it was our golden anniversary, probably preoccupied, wondering which of these foolish unmasked diners were at this very moment passing COVID on to her.)
As I sit here now, my anniversary-mate is still asleep. And so, alone with my thoughts, I allow myself to observe that being together for so many years is both a blessing and a burden to all of us who have travelled that path. The blessing is that you have a partner who has shared your most intimate, joyous experiences for most of your life. The burden is that the longer you're together, the keener the realization that, almost inevitably, one of you will leave the other behind. And how does the one left behind re-negotiate a life without their other half at this late stage? A maudlin thought, to be sure, but a necessary reflection because it reminds us of the importance of making every day together, not just one day a year, a celebratory one - even if all we do is sit in our recliners, watching TV and eating popcorn.
So, happy 52nd anniversary, Chandler Sisco!! I love you beyond measure ... pass the popcorn, please.