Twenty years ago today, I stood at the altar and married my best friend. It was a beautiful candlelight evening wedding that we put together on a shoestring budget of $2,000. (Two thousand dollars for the entire wedding and cake-and-punch reception: Even in 1991, that was some serious frugality.)
We held the wedding in a Presbyterian church in the town I grew up in. You knew it was a Swedish town because the photographer, the florist, the cake decorator, and the dry cleaner who preserved my dress were all named Anderson, and they were not related to each other.
But we all know that beautiful weddings are a dime a dozen, and beautiful marriages are spotted owls. A loving and supportive marriage has made many other beautiful things possible in my life, and I’m not quite sure how I got so ridiculously lucky. So much of it is luck. A fair portion is also choosing the right partner in the beginning, and holding hands as you weather your inevitable storms.
One of our traditions is that each year for our anniversary, we decide together to buy something for the household rather than trying to find individual gifts for each other. Since our anniversary falls immediately after Christmas, we’re always sick to death of shopping for just the right present, so we do the joint gift. Last year, we bought a dual-control electric blanket, which is about six different kinds of awesome. This year, since it was the big 2-0, we splurged on commissioning a kitchen pantry that matches our other cabinets. I won’t tell you how much it cost, except to say that it was almost exactly the price of our entire damn wedding.
Since I’m a writer, I wish I could come up with something lovely that communicates what I want to say about this anniversary (other than “It’s been 20 years . . . Is that even possible?!). But anything I write myself is maudlin in the manner of an Anne Bradstreet poem. It all sounds like sentimental claptrap. I got nothin’.
What I keep returning to instead is this delightful short poem by Frances Shaw. I discovered it in college and it immediately made me think of Phil. I loved it so much I had it printed in our wedding bulletin:
Who loves the rain
And loves his home
And looks on life with quiet eyes,
Him will I follow through the storm;
And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;
Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,
Who loves the rain,
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes.