Thoughts on Anniversaries

Weddings are festive occasions that celebrate a new union of two people who are in love and eager to begin a new life together. But after the sun has set on this day of silk, taffeta, flowers, buttercream icing, speeches, toasts and first dances, and has arisen on the first day of happily ever after, a union of two people becomes about teamwork to both enjoy and weather the ups and downs that make up marriage. And while life holds precious moments to be shared and celebrated as a couple, it also holds plenty of challenges. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 83% of couples will make it to their fifth wedding anniversary and 55% will celebrate their fifteenth anniversary. By 25 years, only 35% couples will still be together, and only 6% will ring in their golden anniversary (50 years) as a couple. 

But enough with the disheartening statistics. My point? With the rise in divorce rates in the past number of decades, celebrating wedding anniversaries is important. They signify another year of a successful partnership and herald a continuation of the happily ever after a couple set out for on their wedding day. Whether it’s year number one or twenty-one, an anniversary is worthy of honoring. So, be it your own special day, or that of loved ones or friends, be sure to commemorate an anniversary with a celebration, even if it’s a small one. 

My first foray into anniversary parties was planning my parents’ 25th anniversary with the help of an older brother. We were in our teens and had the budget to prove it. The celebration consisted of a family dinner at a nice restaurant, a small vase of red carnations, a cake and a gift of an engraved silver tray we picked out from a local jeweler. It wasn’t quite renting a hall and hiring a band to entertain droves of my parents’ friends and relatives, but it was special nonetheless. After twenty-five years of marriage and eleven kids, I would surmise my parents just wanted a quiet, peaceful evening anyway, without having to talk over the strains of Peter, Paul and Mary covers emanating from a band. Or so I hope! 

My first anniversary found my husband and me sharing a rather frostbitten top tier from our wedding cake we had fished out from the back of the freezer and playing Scrabble. We had recently discovered baby number one was on the way and thought going out to dinner would be frivolous spending that could be put to better use on a crib or stroller. Since then, we’ve spent anniversaries at parent/teacher conferences, coaching, attending meetings, and running kids to piano lessons. That’s the thing about marriage and life – it keeps you busy! 

We agreed we’d go to Napa Valley for our 5th anniversary. And then an unexpected tonsillectomy popped up for our son. We told ourselves the following year would work. Until we were paying for more hospital bills following a broken elbow and surgery after a playground fall. Our anniversaries have thus far been signified by movie nights or dinners, with or without the kids, depending on how our schedules shake out. However, I’m not disappointed or upset. I know that my parents didn’t make it 45 years by traveling the globe. Someday we’ll celebrate our anniversary in a vineyard. Until then, we’ll continue with the everyday journey that will get us through the years of little ones, busy schedules, reallocated finances, and the like. And yes, I know we’ll look back on all of this and miss it. 

Until then, whether celebrating anniversaries means a whirlwind tour of Europe, a holiday in the surf and sun, or just a quiet dinner amid the hustle and bustle of life, remember that each anniversary translates into successfully continuing a dream. Acknowledging another year of togetherness is reason to celebrate.

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