|Always a good time, even if its just $3 pita date night.|
I probably wouldn't be writing this, I haven't in the past, except for the fact that we find ourselves once again apart on the anniversary of the day that we vowed to stay together forever. Thankfully, our separation is geographic rather than emotional or legal! I do hate to be away from you any time of the year, but it is especially a bummer when we should be celebrating our togetherness. The beauty of being an adult though, is the ability to postpone festivities to a day that is more conducive, rather than being governed by the calendar, but I still hate to let the day pass without notice.
Twelve may not seem like an "important" number-not like 10 or 25 or 50. But the fact of the matter is, you can't get to the "important" ones without those that are "less" significant. Which in my mind means one thing: they are all pretty darn equal. Twelve is no more or less special than any other number. We have already surpassed many others that we know!
Every year I can't help but remember our first anniversary. We were so young, and we didn't have any really marvelous ideas for making it special. Neither one of us had great jobs, and we didn't have any time off, so we decided to keep it relatively low-key and celebrate by going to the St. Louis Art Museum (we lived in southern Illinois at the time, so it was close by) and then to the much-anticipated Cheesecake Factory for dinner. That was high living for us at the time in the budget department, wasn't it?
We arrived to the crazy parking situation in Forest Park. Wasn't it always such a pain to find anything decent? We were excited to find a spot that wasn't two miles away, and we pulled in quickly. We headed up to the museum and poked around, I don't really remember that what we saw, it was what happened after that I won't forget. We came out to our good-but-not-fantastic spot to find a *parking ticket*! We had inadvertently parked too close to a fire hydrant-we weren't in front of it, but we weren't the specified number of feet away, either. I was so mad! You know how much I hate that kind of thing, it always feels personal, even though it isn't.
A parking ticket isn't the steepest of traffic fines, but that one was higher than the usual because we were "blocking" the hydrant. I think it was $75 and that was not the way we had wanted to spend money on our anniversary! We tried to shake off our frustration-we joked about mailing pennies in for the fine, and decided to not let it ruin our day. We headed to the big fancy mall to do some window shopping (We agreed that our "stupid tax" was enough big spending for the day.) before dinner.
That was when I got a call that was not what we were expecting. We had anticipated, based on information from our friends, a higher than usual tax return, and in our excitement we counted our chickens before they hatched. We decided to spend the money before the return had even been calculated and buy a brand new desktop computer. We spent close to $1000, on credit, with the plan to pay it off once we had our money from Uncle Sam.
What does that have to do with our anniversary? Well, the call was about our return. It had been calculated and was far less than we were counting on. It was $100. I just remember standing in the middle of Penney's, wondering how to tell you, knowing that it would pretty much ruin the day. We would both feel guilty for spending money we didn't have, and wonder where we would conjure up the funds to meet our new money bill. Not to mention that we both knew we would pay a hefty fee in interest.
You handled it the way you handle most every challenge, and I know that it made me fall even more in love with you than I had been before. You just said we needed not to worry about it-we would figure it out. You didn't try to blame me, and you didn't get angry. YOu said we should just try to enjoy our day and leave the problem solving for later.
But as we headed to dinner we both knew that we would feel terrible about spending $50-$60 more on food after the ticket and the "reduced" refund. So we agreed to eat in the food court-you had Chinese, and I can't remember what I had, but the part that sealed the deal on making the day a sweet memory was that after dinner you walked all the way back to the Cheesecake Factory and brought back a piece of my favorite cheesecake for us to share. You didn't want me to be disappointed anymore, after it seemed that the day was just going to keep downhill. And I cried into that cheesecake, not because the day had been nothing like I had hoped, but because your simple gesture humbled me so intensely.
And now, the memory of that day has lost all its sting, and it is just sweet. We did survive, and we learned so much, but the most important part of that day was that we had each other. We didn't need fancy dinners, or a huge celebration, or tons of money (good thing!). We could overcome and still find joy in the small things because we were together. And that first anniversary has set the stage for our whole marriage. It's never been about perfection, but we have made so many wonderful memories already because we know that things are just that-things. You really can't buy love, or joy, or contentment.
I'm so thankful that the Lord gave that day to us. I'm so thankful that I learned early on that Hollywood romances are not what real love looks like. It looks like a little piece of cheesecake after a day of disappointments, from someone who cares so much more about your happiness than his own. We learned to not take for granted that being with each other is what matters.
And we don't. If I have to say one thing about us, it is this: we truly appreciate each day we have together. Because some anniversaries have been spent at nice restaurants, while others were spent in shoddy motel rooms while waiting for a house after a stressful move when celebration meant a dozen gas station roses in a Big Gulp cup. And some have been spent on a cruise in Mexico seven months after the actual date because thousands of miles and a war separated us. And some have been spent with our kids, and some alone, but they have all been sweet because they were a celebration not of the number of years, but the millions of in-and-out, morning and night beautiful "boringness" of sharing, truly sharing, our lives together. The mundaneness of thousands of breakfasts, of grocery shopping and potty-training. Of car maintenance and church-going. Of every day "I love you"s and goodbye kisses.
And so, I don't really care that today is our anniversary. I love to remember our wedding, but it isn't the 22nd of February that is important. I want to be with you whether it is the 22nd of February or the 31st of August, or the second Tuesday in May. I want to wake up to you every morning, and go to bed with you every night. I want to do exciting things with you, and boring things. I want to pay bills, and buy shoes, and yell at the kids and make dinner. I miss you because you are my most favorite person in the world, and there isn't a single day that goes by that I don't thank the Lord that He allowed me the joy of being your wife. So, today I miss you, but that is just because I'm not with you, not because of the date on the calendar. And today is special, not because it is our anniversary, but because every day that we are allowed to go on, two as one, is special.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7
I know God's love better because of you. I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm thankful for the twelve years of days I have had with you, and I am praying that He will graciously grant us many, many more. I love you.