As of tomorrow, you and I will have been married for 20 years and eight months (or exactly 20 2/3 years, if you prefer fractions).
Our twentieth anniversary passed without too much hoopla last March. I made my famous chicken cordon bleu and you surprised me with favorite quotes from the Chronicles of Narnia that now adorn the walls throughout our house. It was a lovely celebration, but it seems like such a long time ago. The days are speeding by, faster by the hour.
In the midst of these rushing days—one recent Sunday afternoon, to be exact—I took a little nap. When I woke up, the first thing that caught my eye was a Precious Moments bride and groom figurine on the dusty bookshelf in our bedroom. The very same figurine that graced the top of our wedding cake all those 20 years and eight months ago.
As you know, my interest in Precious Moments figurines is pretty much a thing of the past, though I’ve held on to one or two for sentimental reasons. But as I lay there and thought about it, I realized that the wedding cake decorations were only one of the things about that long-ago day that I would do differently, if I had to do it all over again.
I’d ditch the figurine on the cake and use fresh flowers instead.
I’d choose a different color for the bridesmaids’ outfits. They were lovely in their day, but forest green? You can’t get much more 1994 than that, unless you went with country blue and rose.
I would wear my hair up instead of down, with flowers here and there instead of a veil attached to a beaded headband.
I would still wear the same dress, I think, but I would keep it after the wedding instead of selling it back to the bridal shop.
I’d arrange to get all our pictures done before the ceremony, not afterwards.
I’d have my brother-in-law play the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” processional on his trumpet as I walked into the church sanctuary on my dad’s arm. Not because I didn’t love the trumpet voluntary he actually did play, but so that you would know what was going on when I started down the aisle.
Yes, there’s a lot I would do differently if I had to do it over again, both that day and in the 20 2/3 years since. But there is one thing that I would absolutely not change.
I would still marry you.
You may wonder why I’m writing about this now. It’s not our actual anniversary. It’s not Valentine’s Day. It’s not even the 24th anniversary of our first date (that’s Feb. 1, 2015, in case you forgot). It’s just a Tuesday in late November.
I guess I’m writing it because, while it’s Tuesday today, Thursday is coming.
And Thursday is Thanksgiving.
There are many, many things in my life for which I am thankful. I even have a list to prove it—a record of 1,000 gifts that took me more than three-and-a-half years to compile.
I know. The popular thing these days is to reach this goal in one year, or even a single month. But however long the list, and however long it took me to complete, you are at the very top.
In fact, without you, many of the other things on the list would not even be there.
When the computer starts churning out hard-drive-failure warnings, you back it up, then figure out what to do when it actually does crash the next day. When we need a new sump pump, you replace it. When one or the other daughter wants to play Mario Bros. or talk about cell phones for hours on end, you willingly join in.
When I imagine 8-foot-high bookshelves in the living room, you build them. When someone drops a glass of orange juice or anything else that might make a sharp, sticky mess in the kitchen, you jump right in to clean it up. When there is a crash on the second floor, you take the stairs four at a time to get up there in the unlikely event that someone has pulled a dresser over on herself.
You work hard to provide the sole paycheck that funds our family. You remain constant when seasons of life come too soon and when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would, when everything is running smoothly and when everything seems to be falling apart.
There are so many things around here that would not happen without your sacrifices, your steadfastness, your creativity, your strength, your encouragement.
It would be easy to take it all for granted, and maybe it seems like I do sometimes.
But I don’t. Honestly and truly, I do not.
I admire and appreciate and love you way more now than I did back when I was all atwitter about tulle and white roses and wedding cake figurines. I’d marry you again tomorrow, as long as we didn’t have to mess with any of all that.
That’s why, this Thanksgiving, what I’m most thankful for is you.