My husband and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We spent the evening at home over a simple meal of cheese, meat, fruit and crackers and an inexpensive bottle of champagne. We had cheesecake for dessert and watched the 1961 film The Hustler starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason on Netflix.

I was glad to be at home, but it wasn't what I thought I had wanted.

After arranging for a babysitter, I spent the days leading up to our anniversary trying to find the perfect date at the perfect location. It wasn't enough to go out for a nice dinner; what on earth would we talk about that we didn't already discuss at home? Seeing a movie was so ordinary. No, this was our 15th, and I wanted  an exciting celebration. I wanted to dance the night away. Unfortunately, the usual place wasn't open on Thursdays.

I tried to find another, even better location: a place not entirely patronized by single twenty-somethings or by pretentious party-goers who cared only about fashion and status; a venue not too dark, claustrophobic, or bizarre in its design; a DJ who would play music we might actually care to dance to. 

My husband, meanwhile, was researching other options in case dancing didn't work out. He and I got into little arguments as we searched for our celebratory place, growing more frustrated the harder we looked. It seemed neither of us really cared too much for the other's suggestions.

Slowly, as irritation mounted, I began to realize my priorities were all in the wrong place. Because it was our 15th, I didn't believe we could just dress up and have a few drinks and a steak dinner. It wasn't enough to simply be in each other's company. I wanted excitement, motion, electricity, a unique night to remember.

What snapped me out of it? The fact that my youngest daughter passed her stomach bug on to her little brother. As the day drew closer, it began to look less and less likely that the date night would happen.

Instead of feeling disappointed, I was relieved. My expectations had gotten out of hand. I was glad to be free of them, brought back to earth by children clutching their bellies and complaining of cramps. 

Ah, this is what it is all about, I thought. It wasn't about what dress I would wear with what heels, or which venue would cater to our kind of crowd, or whether or not we would eat a fancy dinner and pick up a bottle of Dom Perignon. It was about the family we had made together, and the fact that comforting our sick kiddos was more important than any night out - even on our 15th. 

I thought about my own parents and how outrageous my expectations had become in light of many of their anniversaries.

How many times as a child did I see my parents walk wearily in the front door on the summer evening of their anniversary, hot and tired from a long day working in the humid Tennessee woods! They sat in their old chairs in the living room eating a very ordinary meal, holding hands. Many years, we kids performed a sort of play or sang cute songs while wearing costumes for their amusement beneath a homemade sign that cried, "Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!"

They never complained about the meal or the entertainment all those simple years.

15 is just a number, I realized; a nice rounder one, sure - but just another step on the journey of love. Thankfully, love's journey doesn't require glitz and glamour and expensive treats. The journey is not about increasing expectations year by year. It's about recognizing and appreciating simple pleasures and blessings in your life, holding your children close while they cry or laugh, learning to place the good of those you love above your own good, and about gratitude for the years you've spent together building a family and being in community.

Just being together, it turns out, is more than enough. 

Nerdy girl and her man


  1. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! It was perfectly spent.

  2. A bit late but happy anniversary!

  3. Happy Anniversary! It's nice to be able to count blessings, is it not?

  4. Kids have a nasty habit of putting things into perspective, don't they? ;) Happy Anniversary! 15 years, whoohoo.


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