What is it that makes 50 years a celebration? Why is that number so special? Is it the longevity of the event? If that were true, shouldn’t there be an even greater celebration for 51 or 59?
Fifty has become a milestone that we celebrate in life. I remember the year I turned 50 years old. Somehow it didn’t feel like a wonderful celebration. I liked being 49. I even cherished those minutes just before midnight. Who wanted to be half a century old?
But “fifty” is definitely distinctive. Our church celebrated a 50th anniversary with fanfare. Businesses celebrate 50 years with grand giveaways and sales. And what about high school reunions? I recently attended my fiftieth. Wow! (Bet you’re guessing my age right now.) I still have wonderful friends from high school, and at that event we sat around a table talking, laughing and wondering how fifty years had passed.
I guess that’s what makes a 50th celebration unique. It’s a marker in our lives. A place where we pause and remember. And so we come to wedding anniversaries, which is what caused me to write this piece. That Golden Wedding Anniversary. I remember the reception my siblings and I gave for our parents. Fifty years together. Pure gold. And on that day, the thought never occurred to me that I might never celebrate such a day. I took it for granted that one day Carl and I would celebrate our golden anniversary with a grand party.
We take so much in life for granted. That can be both good and bad. None of us want to sit around pondering whether we will be on this earth a year from now. We assume life will be the same forever. And much of the time it is. We do the same things over and over. We go to work, take vacations, go to church, family reunions, do laundry, yard work and shop for groceries. The daily stuff. And there is nothing wrong with that. Life is happy that way.
But here’s the deal. For some of us, that Golden Anniversary is elusive. We will never celebrate it together. Such is the case for me. On March 4, 2016, my late husband, Carl and I would have celebrated 50 years of marriage together. But here’s the good part. Thankfully, we spent 45 years together and each year was a celebration. That’s what really counts. Sure, a 50th anniversary is memorable, but what’s even better are yearly festivities. Not just one big hoopla, but a celebration every year. And we did that. We had 45 celebrations. In fact, during our first year of marriage, while Carl was overseas, we celebrated every month with anniversary cards to each other, so I guess we actually passed 50 if you count those times.
Our anniversary meal often consisted of cheeseburgers and French fries since that was our wedding supper, just eight hours before Carl was deployed. But many times we dressed up and went out for a nice dinner and toasted the evening with a glass of wine. Either way, it was a momentous event.
So rather than mourn the reality that I will not be able to celebrate a 50th anniversary with my husband who is in heaven, I will rejoice over the fact that I had 45 wonderful celebrations. Forty-five galas, so to speak. Forty-five years of love. Forty-five years of being special to one faithful man that God sent into my life.
You just can’t beat that!