This December 21 is our 25th anniversary. But that close to Christmas is a terrible time for a party, so my mom and my girls (well, mostly my mom) decided to organize a big 25th anniversary party for us this Saturday!
I can’t tell you how much fun it was! We started with a square dance (which EVERYBODY always enjoys, even the men who think they’ll absolutely hate dancing), and then went on to the more “anniversary” stuff).
We’ve done square dances for a bunch of family parties before–for Keith’s surprise 40th, for Rebecca’s 16th. In fact, two of Rebecca’s friends are married now after meeting at Rebecca’s 16th square dance. Square dances aren’t awkward like regular dances, and adults really do like them. In fact, we so many of my friends were saying, “we never do anything fun anymore! We should do this more often!” So I think we’re going to start organizing square dances once a month in the area. We could do them as a fundraiser, but it’s a great way to get people out of the house and having fun.
We had people come to the party from all different times in our lives. Certainly there were plenty of friends we have now, but our best friends from university drove three hours, and some other close friends from university drove three hours, and the guy who really got me into speaking and who has become a close personal friend drove 4 hours. And then there was Tammy, who works for me now (though I used to work for her in a committee at church), who drove 8 hours with her husband Steeve. He’s in the military and they were transferred a few years ago, but we’ve stayed close.
After the dance we had an informal dinner with chili and sandwiches and soups. I really wanted informal so people could feel like they could get up and walk around and switch tables and talk to different people, and that’s what everyone did. I think I managed to sit at every table and catch up with just about everyone.
Right before dinner, though, Keith got everyone’s attention and gave a lovely speech about what the last 25 years has meant to him, and then he proposed again.
That meant a lot to me, because I can’t actually remember the other proposals. And I say proposals because the first time he proposed it was kind of because I talked him into it. And then we broke up after that, and I was quite devastated. We got back together and decided we would get married and he proposed again, but neither of us can remember it. So I wanted a new proposal, and he did amazing.
After dinner we had a “renewal” of the vows ceremony.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of renewal of the vows.
I figure that I vowed it then, and so it still counts today. And so I don’t need to vow it again; a vow is a vow. I could totally see renewing your vows if you came to know God after you were married, because now the vows would mean something more. Or if you eloped and nobody saw you vow.
But that wasn’t the case for us.
But we did want to do a ceremony. So I dressed up in my mother-in-law’s wedding dress from 1968, which still looks amazing and is very Audrey Hepburn. My own wedding dress was hopelessly out of style, with far too many bows (including in the butt) and way too much lace, and we sent it to Kenya a few years ago because those dresses are still in style there, and we knew the children’s home where we volunteer could use it. Katie tried it on before we let it go, but it’s long gone.
We did, however, still have the bridesmaids dresses from my wedding–complete with even more bows in the butt. So my girls both put those on.
Then two of our good friends dressed up funny to be the flower girl and ring bearer.
Steeve, who is a military chaplain, led us in vows (with our son-in-law standing in as best man, too).
Here’s what they were:
Here’s what Steeve led me to vow:
When we are at a restaurant
I promise that if I want french fries
I will order my own french fries
I will not wait for you to order french fries
Under the guise of not wanting fries myself
And then steal some of the fries off of your plate
Fries which you had previously ordered for your own eating pleasure
Thereby preventing you from enjoying them yourself
I also promise that at least once in my life
I will get up at the crack of dawn
To go sit at the Frink centre (note: a local boardwalk marsh area)
and not move or speak for twenty minutes with you
While freezing to death and getting eaten alive by mosquitos
So that we may enjoy a 20% chance
Of seeing a king rail together
I promise to put my dirty glasses in the actual dishwasher
Instead of leaving them like little presents
Every place except for my bedside table
Which is the only place I ever actually need one
So that you can stop having to get up in the middle of the night
To get me a glass of water And trip over 10 glasses on your way
Here’s what Steeve led Keith to vow:
I vow to schlepp all your boxes of books upstairs
So that you can decide which ones you actually need
So that I can schlepp all the rest of them downstairs again
Because you told me the wrong number in the first place.
I promise to put the books into whatever vehicle you need
And then schlepp all the extra books that didn’t sell back again
So we can do it all again the next day.
I vow to be the one to get out of bed
And move to another room if I snore
Unless I have to get up in the morning
In which case I vow to give you permission to kick me twice
Before you’re the one to get up and leave
I promise that I will not constantly ask you
When the tours are
And how many events we are going to have
More than 3 weeks—no—one week ahead of time
And not to bug Tammy too often
because I know it might change
And I promise that I will try not to be stressed
At the ridiculously unpredictable nature of your job
I also promise that when we have grandchildren,
I will keep birdwatching and latin class time to a reasonable amount
So that you will have time to teach them how to knit
Although I reserve the option to teach them to count stitches in Greek
After the vows I said a little speech to Keith.
I feel like Keith has gone out of his way to sacrifice for me lately. He’s cut back on a job that he loves so that we can be on the road with my speaking more (we’re heading out to California and Arizona in January, and to Arizona and up to Colorado in March if your churches may be interested! Just email Tammy to learn details. It’s very affordable). He’s trying to not need to be so hyper-planned out and is doing our RV trips without being fully booked in to campgrounds ahead of time, so that we can stop at interesting places we find along the way and stay longer if we’re enjoying it. He tries new foods, he exercises if I feel like it, he’s even learning ballroom dancing!
And I just talked about how everyday he always gives me the impression that he has the better end of the deal, and I can never quite figure out why. And I hope that, everyday, I try to make some of his dreams come true, too, the way that he’s made some of mine.
The napkins for the evening had our theme on it–“Are We There Yet?”
When my mom asked us what we wanted to be theme of the party, Keith said that to be funny, but I decided to run with it. I explained why in this post about how to know when we’ve arrived. But we talked about that, too–how our focus changes as we’re married, and how I hope that we never really do arrive, but we’re always growing and looking forward to the next big thing, even if one day the next big thing is simply eternity.
We also played some awesome games, kind of like the Newlywed Game.
Everyone had a chance to write down questions for us to see if we knew the answers each other would say, and we did amazingly well. And you know that game where you have to close your eyes, and then someone says, “who does this apply to more? You or your spouse?” You have to either put your hand up or point at the other person. So Rebecca listed a bunch of things–who smells better, who’s more likely to forget to pack underwear when you’re going away, who’s more likely to commit a crime (I definitely got that one!). We got all of those right.
Then we heard the stories.
Everybody split up into four groups based on when they met us–in our childhood, during university, when our kids were really young, or in the last ten years. And in those groups people talked about us and then a few people told stories. And it was precious. What’s kind of neat, too, is that one of our university era couple friends really enjoyed my aunt and uncle at university. We all went to church together, and my friend Susie talked to my aunt a lot about life and faith. They moved to Ottawa many years ago, and my girls now attend their church, and Susie plays the same role in my daughters’ lives as my aunt played in hers. I love that.
So it really was a great celebration. And we tried to do it a little bit on the cheap, which is why I’m telling you all the details in case any of you want to copy it someday! The food doesn’t have to be elaborate and square dance callers are often cheaper than DJs. But the night was full of memories (including my new proposal), and the girls certainly looked beautiful with bows on their butts.