This past Sunday my mom texted me at 11:45 p.m. and told me, “Happy Anniversary!” There was a meme attached with floating red hearts. It was very sweet. I know how she must have felt relieved that she got us the message before midnight…just under the deadline. I got out of bed and walked down the hallway to the living room to find my husband lying across the love seat with his feet hanging over the arm, reading a text message; the same text message I had just read. Apparently, I didn’t notice it was a group text sent to us both.
“We did it again, didn’t we?” I asked him.
“Yes, I just got the text. Happy anniversary?!” he replied. We laughed. We had both forgotten our anniversary again. Twenty-three years, five kids, three states, three countries and several cross-Atlantic moves together, and we’ve only lost one rocking chair and the ability to remember the date we got married on. Not bad.
The next morning, while we were sitting on the back porch, drinking coffee and grunting at one another until the caffeine kicked in and I was able to form complete thoughts and sentences, I thought about what that says about us. I think it just means that we are so committed to our familial life, that these things are not as important to us as they once were. I’m not at all suggesting that our anniversary is unimportant, or that 23 years of marriage is not an accomplishment. I actually believe both are hugely important. However, it’s not THE important thing or even in the top five.
We celebrate our anniversaries and birthdays with our children. We aren’t “party people” anymore. (Who has the energy?) And with five children, we sort of gave up on “date night” years ago. It’s difficult to leave so many adolescent brains in the home alone together and not worry that someone was in a fight over whose turn it is to hold the remote, use the computer, or clean up the mess after stacking all the mattress onto one twin bed and then jump-sliding across the top one only to break the window when the corner of the mattress hits the glass just right.
Anniversaries are really a celebration of one more year of marriage. We just don’t get that wrapped up in the celebration of the day anymore. We have sort of taken to just celebrating our marriage everyday. He takes me to Home Depot with him on his days off and holds my hand and asks me which counter tops I prefer so that when he is ready to build me the much needed additional counter space in my kitchen, he picks the one that I like. Our romantic meals usually tend to be from the drive-thru at McDonald’s and eaten as I drive us around to various second-hand stores where we can browse through the nicer pieces of furniture and see what we like.
So, our missing our anniversary on Sunday wasn’t abnormal for us. It was just one more reason to laugh. And then on Monday he celebrated his love for me by snaking the sewer lines in the yard. And today I celebrated my love for him by standing in the kitchen and stirring a large pot of his favorite homemade rice pudding. He set up the coffee pot last night so that all I had to do was push the ON switch this morning. I placed his hands-free device for his phone on the “catch-all” table by the front door where he would find it on his way to work this morning.
We’re not the flowers, cards, candy, and jewelry anniversary people. We prefer to show each other the love and respect on the daily in little conveniences and caring signs rather than in the big, bouquet, gift-wrapped gestures once a year. And I love this about us. And I pray we have another 23 or more years together.