This week my husband and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary. Nine years ago on a glorious, Columbus Day weekend we were married in the field by a pond on my grandparent’s farm, surrounded by the people dearest to us.
With such a gorgeous and meaningful setting, the thing that we had to worry about was the fun. Celebrations tend to come upon that naturally, especially when families and old friends are reuniting in honor of such an event. And we’ve certainly got friends and families who know fun, so we weren’t too concerned about that. In fact, the greatest concerns, aside from the weather forecast that day, were also some of the most anticipated events -- when would the Noble family would break in to Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired song and what prank would the Hickins pull?
We tried to do as much of the wedding ourselves as possible, and by "ourselves" I really mean leaning very heavily on the same friends and family who would be sharing this day with us. The first hurdle, and one that we had no control over, was the weather. We were prepared for anything, and when the day dawned a lovely one, if even a bit warmer than expected, our relief and that of all the people who were helping us, was palpable. Foliage was late in coming that year -- there was only one tree that had a hint of russet in the back ground -- but we felt especially lucky as our reception was being held on-site under tents and it had poured buckets the previous day.
What we were able to focus on was the atmosphere under the tent and the food. We chose a meal that we hoped would seem homey, comfortable and reminiscent of family and times spent together. I recently came across the menu worksheet that we came up with one afternoon with my mom. This very organized list in Mom’s handwriting is a wonderful reminder of the careful preparation and planning that went into this meal we hoped would show everyone what they meant to us, that we counted them as very special. We tried to keep everyone in mind -- adults, kids, vegetarians and allergies alike, while being kind to those friends and family who were volunteering their time and energy to prepare and serve the meal. Ham and turkey, macaroni and cheese, stuffed acorn squash, homemade applesauce as well as Hickin’s pickles on the side. We even had cupcakes for kids to decorate if they discovered they didn’t care for the homemade Colombian spice wedding cake, covered with gorgeous handmade sugar flowers and fondant, all also made by a dear friend.
Of course, all was lovely and delicious and there was no shortage of fun or good cheer. A whole crew of us set up before the rehearsal and dinner, wiping down grubby rental tables and wrestling with chairs. Friends of my mom came from Massachusetts to take care of the cooking and serving, all happening in a kitchen that was also preparing the sausage gravy and biscuits that was to be served the next morning at the Dummerston Center Hunters Breakfast (this ended up meaning that a large contingent of us headed there for breakfast the next morning). And, in the end, I think everyone felt as though they had been invited to and embraced in a very special family event.
Jon and I have spent these past anniversaries reminiscing about that day and our honeymoon, usually over a special dinner out. This year, while we are unable to celebrate in that way on the actual day, we are going to get to celebrate in an equally special family way. Our anniversary date has the honor of falling on my mother’s birthday, something that we were well aware of with all of our wedding plans, and that made us doubly grateful for all her efforts in planning our celebration. But how could we have known that a year after our wedding, our niece Audrey would be born, adding a third layer to this auspicious day. We have tried to keep all of these important celebrations in mind when making plans, giving preference to children’s birthday parties when necessary and having flexible (if lengthy!) "birthday months" to be sure that every person’s time would be special.
This year we are all travelling to my brother’s house where we will not only be celebrating the birthdays and anniversary, but also new accomplishments, new jobs and new cars. But most importantly, we will again be celebrating with those we love, and will be having a special meal together to mark the occasions. Will we eat out? Perhaps, and it will be wonderful -- all of the girls are at an age where a dinner in a nice restaurant can leave quite an impression. But maybe we will choose to stay at home and celebrate with a family style meal, featuring favorites and comfort food that reflects how important these family gatherings are to us. Either option will be a wonderful one, and while food and shared meals together are not the defining feature of our family’s strength and closeness, it certainly has and will continue to accompany us through the important milestones of our lives.
Happy birthday, Mom! And happy eighth birthday to you, Audrey! And, of course, happy anniversary, Jon. We are lucky to share so much.
Julie Potter is a wife, mother of two, avid gardener and passionate cook who believes good food doesn’t have to be complicated. Share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.