Sunday, September 17, 2023

Anniversary Words

This past week the yearly occurrence of my wedding took place. Over four decades of remembering the event at a church surrounded by cornfields in southern Minnesota. Exuberant fanfare was minimal. The tradition of eating lunch at a restaurant of non-American cuisine remained intact. The day was duly noted. "One and done" and onto the next day.

A card received
Before too many eye rolls and thoughts of my being a curmudgeon rise in your minds, I offer this perspective. The notion of "celebrating" brings with it either a sense of accomplishment against all odds or the end of a grueling challenge.  My marriage has not ended nor do I sense this past year in the perspective of, "You will be lucky to make it through."  The use of "happy", as in Happy Anniversary, bears the same Midwestern expression as, "The weather sure has been nice lately." It is something to say without engaging in anything further. A pleasant nicety which carries a thin veil of caring. Neither of these words describe the reality of the present in my estimation. 

Decades ago there were weeks of careful planning in preparation for the anniversary event. The consideration of satiny sleepwear or provocative undergarments took me to many stores with a dollop or two of embarrassment. There was no online shopping in those years. This ritual morphed into finding functional flannels. Now with the proliferation of online everything and no hassle returns, the aspect of gifting has been set aside. Drives to surprising destinations to walk along wooded trails enjoying the burgeoning beauty of fall foliage, or going to different orchards to pick apples are only memories. Riding in a vehicle for an extended period of time does not bode well for my wife's enjoyment. Maintaining balance while walking now defines what may be acceptable for a trail. It is not that the words, "celebrate" or "happy" are wrong. Yet, in the marking and remembering of the anniversary along with the existence of what has transpired in our relationship, these words are shallow, if not hollow. The journey of  my relationship of marriage continues with its unique characteristics. 

All of us function with images and expectations. When these images and expectations are not realized we

True sentiments
endeavor to find resolution. The prevailing culture holds up unrealistic, fairy tale images of relationships. My perspective on marriage is not about romance and living happily ever after. However, that image was part of my early years of marriage. The word which has become foundational is, "commitment." It carries little glamour. It does not radiate roses and passion. Nor is it a word to overlook. The anniversary day was a time to explore the dimensions of my promise, spoken and unspoken, to another person. Surrounded by cornfields, as well as relatives and friends in a rustic building built for religious purposes years ago, a day most in attendance have forgotten, I have not forgotten the intent of the vows, even though I do not recall the exact words. The time to reminisce was brief because I believe it is more important to focus on the aspects of commitment today. The journey continues!

Groomsman and garter

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