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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Keeping it simple for a great 40th anniversary celebration

Chucky & Oliver & "the pee show" - their entertainment for our anniversary

On Sunday, Aug. 12, Mike & I celebrated our 40th anniversary. We kept it simple and invited only our children and grandchildren for a blessing at Mass followed by brunch at our house.
Five grandkids stayed in the nursery during Mass; two of them remained with us. There were nine of us adults in the pew. Our son Brian couldn't be there because he's serving in Qatar with the Air National Guard. Colleen and Des couldn't be there because they were on their honeymoon.

I should mention that the phrase "our children and grandchildren" includes some whom I refer to as "borrowed." It's like adopted 'cept different.
Chuck has been best friends with Brian for more than two decades. I can't remember when he didn't call me "Mama Sweet." (My married name is Sweet.) Chuck and his wife Maria live 10  minutes away from us. I often stop in to visit after my Wednesday teaching at Waukesha County Technical College. Over the years I've come to love Maria and their four children (soon to be five!).
Chuck pushing Elana on our tire swing - during our party
Colleen, another "borrowed" kid, has been our daughter Anna's best friend since they met when they were diapered two-year-olds in the church nursery. They'll each turn 28 before Christmas. Colleen grew up at our house nearly as much as at her own. In June, she married a good man named Desmond Lovelace, and they now have "yours, mine and ours" - three daughters. Needless to say, getting away for a honeymoon entailed quite the detailed arrangements! We missed having them at our gathering, which was good chaos and would have been better chaos with their three girls running around (okay, Marisa only toddles at this point).

My kids seem to enjoy having the borrowed kids and grandkids around, even though they only grew up in a family of three children. I'm the oldest of five and so is Mike, so chaos seems normal to us.

Our priest had the whole crew come up and stand in front of the altar after Mass. It was a real "spot out," as we said in eighth grade. First he smiled and said something about us "being fruitful and multiplying" (and I thought of all the ones who were absent or in the nursery). Father Mich said some beautiful things and I wish I could remember them all. Words about the union of a  man and a woman being so sacred that it's a sacrament... something about as we get "old... er, older" (his words! ha), we could continue to go to God with our joys and our sorrows... something about saying "thank you" rather than "congratulations" to couples on their anniversaries, from gratitude that they stay committed to each other and live as an expression of God's love in the world.

Our brunch was deelish. All I had to do was make coffee and put out juice, plates, cups, glasses, and silverware. Katie made a savory egg dish, Rachl made cinnamon rolls, Anna made scalloped potatoes, Maria brought sausages and fruit. Kevin decided to make cream puff and fruit kabobs at 3:30 in the morning after he came home from bartender duty and walking the dog. Anna reported that she warned him that Maria was bringing fruit but he countered, "Then this is a competition. These kabobs will be the talk of the party."

When Chuckie, age seven, bit into one of the cream puffs, he exclaimed to Oliver, also age seven, "There's ice cream in these things!"

We made short work of the kabobs and everything else, and then sat outside in the refreshingly cool air. We chatted idly and watched the kids play. Elana, age ten, put on a giggly "Happy anniversary" show for us using a hula hoop and some ballet and jazz moves.
Elana after her hula hoop show where she sang an original "Happy Anniversary" song
Chuckie and Oliver put on a "pee show" for us using long tubular squirt guns they filled in the pool. They propped the guns between their legs and leaned back so the plunger hit the ground behind them. The water grandly shot out and upward in front of them. Bailey, age three, tried to join them in the pee show, but she didn't have much luck. Chuckie and Oliver took turns perfecting their double or triple pee shows, since we have three of these big squirters.

Ten years ago, for our 30th anniversary, Rachl organized a picnic in our honor. We gathered under a shelter in a beautiful park with a river running nearby. Our friends and family members created scrapbook pages that Rachl put into an album for us. I'll always cherish the memories of that day and those loving and creative scrapbook pages.

And I'll never forget our precious 40 anniversary blessing and brunch, pee show and all.