Tuesday, January 27, 2009

“remember why you signed up”

this week our daughter, sarah, and son-in-law, ryan, celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary. we are proud of both of them, and happy to celebrate another landmark in their life together. life has not always been easy for them and their little family, but like many of us, they are
learning and growing together.
(ryan and sarah on a recent trip to the happiest place on earth, with their youngest - wyatt)

it got us thinking, and reminiscing about where we were at the 14 year mark. a flood of pleasant, and unpleasant, memories came back to us. we had three grade school age children. gunther had been seriously injured and required surgery; out of a job, rehabilitating, financial problems. vickey was working full time to support the family while gunther recovered. out of necessity our kids were latch-key kids for a season. we were in survival mode and . . . life was . . . not enjoyable. as a couple, we were not having fun.

at that time we were caught up in the business of marriage, and being responsible and raising children. our home was not a fun place to visit. we were tired, and in our fatigue, too hard on our kids and too hard on each other.

at some point around that time, our church offered a one-day “marriage seminar”. as we recall it didn’t cost much and included lunch at a nice restaurant. so we went. we didn’t think we were “in trouble”, but we figured any chance for a brush up was a good thing. and then again, the free lunch.

19 years later we don’t remember much about the seminar, but one thing stuck. it was these words of advice – “remember why you signed up in the first place”. the couple teaching told their story and it sounded like a carbon copy of where we were at at that time. they were so wrapped up in the business of being married and being responsible and doing it right, that they forgot why they got married to begin with. forgot what attracted them to each other at the start.

their advice to us all was to pause, and take inventory - take a good hard look at your mate. remember what attracted you to that person. remember what about them you really liked. you loved his sense of humor? you respected her devotion to family? you admired his athletic prowess? her self confidence? his ability to make friends? her brains? his goals in life? her sense of adventure? that person is still there, just buried, like you are, under the pile of life.

(here's gunther - still demonstrating his athletic prowess - wiffle ball with the grandsons.)

yea, taking out the trash is important, but none of us got married to become professional trash-taker-outers. we got married to have fun and enjoy each other, to explore new adventures, and tell each other our best kept secrets, to laugh at our own stupid jokes, and keep each other company, to cheer each other on when the race is hard, and go on romantic dates. . . . . and . . . fill in your own blanks.

from time to time – remember. and sign up again, for all the same reasons.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

33 on the 3rd

i am sitting in my cousin’s living room – looking out the picture window at a mountain full of pine and snow. i’m trying to absorb all the beauty and the wonder with my eyes. typically, we travel to northern california over new year’s to spend some time with our extended family. it’s a great chance to connect with our loved ones, and to get some much needed r & r.

our anniversary is on january 3rd, so our new year’s trip often coincides with our anniversary celebration. being in the mountains makes it even easier to enjoy some peace and solitude.

33 years is a long time, and we are both grateful that our mate stuck it out. there have been many chances over the decades to bail out. there have been times when neither one of us was easy to live with - still we’ve had a wonderful life together. we married really young, so we’ve grown up together, we’ve raised our family, and we’ve faced life’s hardships side by side.

when people find out how long we’ve been together we are often asked for our secret. i think there are several. one is that we chose to "stay”. another is that at some point we began to realize that the whole purpose of marriage isn’t necessarily to make us happy. (what? you say – not get married to be happy?) i think that marriage is designed to make us better. designed to challenge us, to press us, to teach us the meaning of sacrifice and giving and loving beyond ourselves. practicing sacrifice and giving doesn’t always make us happy. many cultures in today’s world believe that commitment is the foundation of love – not the other way around. the more i ponder on that one, the more i am inclined to agree. maybe i’m not ready to subscribe to arranged marriages, but i do think that those who do are on to something. they have a much better grasp of what marriage is for than we do. the statistics prove that those marriages are much more successful.

this year, as we pass the 33 year mark, we look at each other with gratitude. i am so thankful for the gift that gunther has given me. the gift of his lifelong commitment. the gift of faithfulness and fidelity. his gift of friendship. the gift of allowing me to be me, while at the same time we are “us”. we’re not teenagers anymore, but we’ve got a lot of mileage left. and we are both very excited as we look forward to the adventures that still lie ahead. do we “have it down”? – this marriage thing? shah – right! we’ve got a lot to learn. maybe, just maybe, we have learned enough to know that we don’t know it all. and that after all these years, we still need help from time to time.

here are some pictures from our new year’s trip to yosemite. it was a day full of wonder and incredible beauty.

the valley with bridalveil falls in the distance

el capitan new year's day 2009

winter magic

defies description doesn't it?

the halls of the ahwahnee hotel decked for the holidays

gunther loves the snow. even more, he loves it when it is snowing. can you see the glee on this man's face?

happy new year to you! (and happy anniversary to us)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

visions of sugar plums

this year's gingerbread house was finished just in time for christmas!

i have been asked to show some details for other christmas-aholics - so h
ere are a few pictures.

granddaughter kate was very
proud of her snowman.
she rolled and
baked it herself.

after finishing the house, we made a big tree for the little ones. when it came time to eat the gingerbread house (our christmas eve tradition) the bigger kids were going after the house. wyatt saw his opportunity and had the tree all to himself!

check out cameron's blog for some pics of a previous year's house and it's devouring!