Milestones

How do we define milestones in life? What makes one event more noteworthy than another?  I was recently looking on that famous greeting card website for an anniversary year designation, and noticed that there comes a time, after about 15 years, that the designation is rather ho hum.  As if those years don’t really deserve much mention.  Seriously- it said for year 23, the “theme” is air.  Air?  Am I to assume, then,  that I can put a lid on a mason jar and hand it over, for a gift of air?

I have been pondering this because today is my 24th anniversary.  A rather ho hum year according to that famous card company web site.  This years theme is stone.  I wonder, how did we go from a Diamond at year 10 to stone at year 24? Have these past 14 years not amounted to more than a rock?

Let me tell you – 24 years is nothing to sneeze at.  Marriage is so much more than the ceremony and reception.  It is all those small things, those ho hum days and events that never get the recognition they deserve.

The  day he clips a rose from the garden and puts it on the table because it’s pretty.

When she brings him Vernors because he’s been sick, and she knows it will make him feel better.

It’s laughing at your silly jokes, a hug just because, dancing in the kitchen to annoy the children.  Being able to disagree, but know, no matter what, you love them.  It’s laundry and shopping and cooking and cleaning.  Dealing with being sick, aging family and bills.

Marriage is hard, it’s fraught with pitfalls that devour many and  leave many more with bruises unseen.   It’s messy, and stressful and there are three sides to it-his, hers and the truth.

So when I look at that greeting card website that says year 24 is stone- and the big milestone of  year 25 is silver, I can’t help but shake my head and disagree.  Each of these 24 years has been a milestone to celebrate, to shout to all that those ho hum events and days have had as much meaning as that year 25.

So today, on this day of stone for my husband I , I want to publicly shout out to all, that we have persevered through all those ho hum moments.  We have fought and made up, laughed and cried, supported and cheered, and most of all loved each other as we promised we would.  You see, we made a choice, those many years ago, and though it’s been hard at times, I can’t imagine another I would have loved the way I love him.

Happy 24th anniversary my dear love.

Sweet Lorraine

In a suburb of Detroit, on a street named Lorraine, a young couple bought a brand new home;  3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, full basement, large yard.   With their daughter and son, they moved in and started their daily life.  Nothing unusual about that, People do it all the time.  Happens every day to millions across the country. Every day someone moves to a new house, starts a new life.     That’s the thing, people do it all the time. The year was  1958.

Like any home, I imagine there were trials and tribulations within.  Young kids become teens, have their own ideas and their own dreams, soon become young adults.  As a parent, we raise our children to be good, honest, hardworking citizens, knowing that one day, they will fly from that nest on their own.  When they do venture out, that home is the connection, the comfort zone, the familiar.

Life changes and we move on, leaving one place for another.  Seeking either a new adventure, more space or less space.  Leaving the nest for the first time for some or downsizing for others.  That place we call home can have great meaning to us or be nothing more than a structure to live in.  Lorraine was a home,  a gathering place for family and friends, a constant.   So constant, that the couple lived nowhere else- ever.

The couple was my mother and father in law.  I joined the family in 1993, and was welcomed warmly from the beginning.  The first time we met, I was greeted with a hug  on the front porch of Lorraine. At the end of each visit  they would stand on that porch and wave goodbye as we left.  Every time, without fail, a constant.

Funny how some things NEVER change. Like the decor in that house.  In 20 years, and certainly before I showed up, it remained the same.  The same wallpaper in the kitchen, in the bath. The same perpetual christmas decor in the basement. A constant.

It’s hard when things change.  We lost my father in law in 2009 and mother in law in August of this year.   Years earlier, my mother in law had mentioned she kept money in different places. She wasn’t kidding. We found change and money nearly everywhere.  As we went through the house, it was not surprising to see all that was there.  I smiled  at the box that held  the wedding shower cards-from moms wedding in 1944. The various coin purses- filled with coins, in several drawers.  But the biggest smile for me was finding miniature candy bars and candies in nearly every coat pocket in the hall closet.  I never knew.

As we sat at the kitchen table that one last time,  I listened as the hall clock chimed, as the floor boards had that squeak when you walked down the hallway, how I could hear the others in the basement start a new game of pool.  Those familiar sounds, so constant throughout the years, that I will miss.

The contents of the house will be sold soon.  Gone will be the knick knacks, the dishes, the treasures that were their life.  Soon after, the house itself will be sold.  Gone will be the constant, the home the family knew.  The house is just a place, the home will live in our hearts forever, as will the sight of the two of them standing on the porch waving  as we pull away.

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Traditions

I would venture to guess, most everyone has at least one holiday tradition in their family.  It may be as simple as a favorite recipe made each year, or a house where all gather.  That one event that we all look forward to, that seems to connect us together again.

Who can  forget Christmas morning as a kid? Waking early, rushing to the living room to see all the bright packages piled under the tree.  Searching carefully for one with my name on it, hoping it holds that magical item I just HAD to have.  And then, we wait.  Oh, the agony of waiting for the rest of the family to wake up.  Don’t they know it’s CHRISTMAS?!  Finally, after what seems forever, the others would come out, equally excited ready to get the day moving.  And then, we wait.  Our parents were not out yet.   Have they lost their Christmas spirit?  Arent’ they excited?

One year, I may  have been about 10 or so, things changed a little.   Lined up in front of the fireplace were 9 new, matching red stockings. Green and white trim bordered the top, our names embroidered  across the front.  Filled with treats and a small gift. Oh how exciting!  Just about that time, our parents made it into the living room, looking  in dire need of a cup of coffee.  As my mother made her way to the kitchen to get the coffee started, she informed us all that yes, we could have whatever is in the stocking while we she gets breakfast ready.   SWEET!  let’s see what treats and treasures we have.

We each found our stocking and commenced to dump its contents in front of us.  Inside we found,  an orange or an apple, a handful of mixed nuts in the shells,  a handful of Brachs candies and a small gift. It may be nail polish for the girls, or a yo-yo or some other small item. No matter what it was, it was something we could have right then. More important, I think, it gave time for my parents to get that much-needed cup of coffee.

That is but one fond tradition I had growing up.  There were plenty of  other traditions. For example: carefully decorating sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies to be used as ornaments on the tree; finding the bottom half of the tree empty in the morning, because the dog ate them.  Or having mini english muffin pizzas , eggs and moms cherry ring for breakfast. 

My husband’s family has their traditions as well. Notes in every package, kielbasa for breakfast, new pajamas from grandma.   Now that we have our own family, we have blended some of his, some of mine, to make ours.   I do hope one day that our boys will remember those traditions, remember  that what truly made them happy wasn’t all the “things” they got but the love and family .

I looked forward every year to that christmas stocking.  I don’t remember many of the “must have” items in the bright shiny packages, but that stocking was always there.  I may still have it, tucked away in a box somewhere.

What traditions do you cherish, or have passed on?