My parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary was yesterday.
Fifty. Years. Y’all.
I’ve written about my folks here before, about how extremely cool they are, and how I have a lot of prep work to do if I’m supposed to emulate their idea of “retirement,” which so far is roughly twice as active as my “working” years. I’ve also mentioned their courtship, which was unique in many respects and also might explain a few things about my own ideas of romance.*
So how do you indicate how happy you are that two of the most amazing people you know have managed to stay married, to each other, for fifty years? And how pleased you are that they stuck to it at least for the first ten, because otherwise you wouldn’t be here to express that happiness?
One traditional way is with an enormous party.
But to be painfully honest, even with guest lists provided by their schools, I have trouble planning two-hour pre-packaged Activity Center birthday parties for the children who live with me. So engineering a fiftieth anniversary blow-out from two states away was never going to happen.
Luckily, my parents aren’t enormous party people in any sense of that phrase, bless them from the depths of my social ineptness.
Another tradition is to send something suitably fabulous for the occasion. But what?
Most of the family thought an edible arrangement of chocolate-dipped fruit on stems would be perfect—and it would be.
But odds were Mom and Dad wouldn’t be at home for the delivery, because they’re the busiest people I know, which means the delivery person would leave it at the front door,** except my parents never use the front door, so the delivery would sit there for heaven knows how long, even if I told them to look out for it. Plus, their house is surrounded by woods containing, as they do, woodland creatures who would literally jump—fangs out, claws extended—at the chance to snack on chocolate-covered pineapple daisies.
And having celebratory food items delivered to one of Mom’s Curves locations seems . . . wrong.
Flowers then. Even I could manage to order flowers.
So I did, online, after going over several websites that convinced me gold has become a terrible metal to associate with a marriage, unless that marriage is plastic, overpriced, and/or tackier than you could possibly imagine. If that’s the secret to a long-lasting relationship, I don’t even want to know.
Instead, I found this a week ago:
It was available in my parent’s area for a Sunday delivery, so I ordered it, added a message, received confirmation, and went on my merry way.***
What with one thing and another on Sunday, I didn’t check my phone until late afternoon. I had three voice mails.
The first was from the flower shop—as you were probably expecting, because I rule at this foreshadowing stuff—saying that my delivery couldn’t be made because the specific arrangement wouldn’t be available until Monday and to please call as soon as possible. The second was a repeat, except in tone, which was more of a please call us please, our reputation is at stake, here, lady, please.
While I rummaged around my e-mail messages for my order confirmation number, I listened to the last message, expecting an ultimatum, possibly with tears.
Instead, it was my parents, telling me how gorgeous the flowers were and how much they loved them, and me.
I called Mom and Dad. “You got the flowers!” I said.
“Yes!” they both said. “They’re wonderful,” Mom said. “We love them.”
“Great! Um . . . What do they look like?”
“Well, they have these colorful things called petals, arranged mostly in loose circles” Dad said, “and they’re on these long green things called stems . . .”^
Mom intervened, thank heavens, and described the arrangement—which sounds complicated and lovely, though perhaps not very yellow—and confirmed that our names were on the card.
And I may have scored a couple extra The Thought That Counts points when I described what it should have looked like.
Mom and Dad had a great anniversary—it was one of the few they’ve actually spent together, apparently, which may be the actual answer to marital longevity—and decided on a mutual gift to each other.
“We figured out that in fifty years, we’ve only had three mattresses, including the old, sprung one we started with,” Mom said. “It’s probably about time.”
I told ’em to enjoy it, but that I didn’t need any details about how, please.^^ Some secrets to marital happiness I prefer to work out on my own.
But at least I know what I’ll be sending them on their anniversary twenty-five years from now:^^^ a new mattress with a diamond pattern in the stitching.
*Nature and nurture both had a crack at that one, believe me.
**Because Philander Chase, Mom and Dad’s dog, has staked out the back door as his personal “You Shall Not Pass” territory, anyway—think Gandalf and the Balrog, except reversed—and few delivery people or meter readers want to challenge him on this. He’s of uncertain lineage, except we’re pretty sure all of his ancestors were Very Large and Loud. No idea if the sock-eating thing is nature or nurture, but Phi has a way of indicating that he might take the foot as well, for extra protein. Sweet dog. Probably.
***I did, however, leave a message on Mom and Dad’s answering machine, warning them to keep an eye on the front porch. I don’t trust deer any more than I trust raccoons.
^Dad’s sense of humor is an area that tends to veer right off the nature v. nurture debate smack into the dread of heredity.
^^^For those of you who just said, “Wait a minute,” I invite you to click all the links about my folks that I’ve scattered through this one. If anyone can make it to their seventy-fifth anniversary, they can and will, in the most casual and natural manner possible, and why all the fuss?
~Still won’t want any details, though. Just sayin’