Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cracks, Chips & All: 36 Years and Counting

Wedding photos by Stan Reimer, Pratt, KS
A high school classmate and I share a wedding anniversary. On March 28, she and her husband celebrated their 42nd anniversary. Randy & I celebrated Number 36. On Tuesday, Diana posted a photo to Facebook of a kitchen utensil rack they had received as a wedding gift from her parents.
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Photo by Diana Bale Hemphill
It prompted me to think about some of the wedding gifts I still use. Back in 1981, brown Pyrex was the "hot" color. I have several brown glass 9-by 13-inch pans that have survived the three-plus decades. On Tuesday, I made a blueberry pie for Randy. He'd rather have that than a sappy card. (I personally like sappy cards.) Anyway, my pie crust recipe makes three crusts, so I put the extra one in another of my wedding gifts - a brown Pyrex pie plate - and stashed it in the freezer. Some of my Tupperware shows its age through the harvest gold, olive green and brick red color scheme.
But of all the gifts I received, our dinnerware pottery is the gift we still use every day. My wedding scrapbook has a photo of the pattern, which was called "Harvest." We picked it out at Pegue's, a department store in Hutchinson, which is no longer open.
I only have seven dinner plates and half a dozen luncheon plates from the original 12 we received as gifts. One cereal bowl is the only survivor of its type. Even though I didn't register for soup mugs in the Harvest pattern, some generous people wrapped them up in white wrapping paper and they also appeared on our gift table. Even though I didn't know I "needed" them, they have been used time and time again for wintertime soups. 
Through the years, I've thought about replacing them, but so far, they are the go-to dishes in my kitchen cabinet. We chose the pattern, Harvest, because we both grew up on farms and we were beginning a new life together on a farm. Randy's Grandma Ava was giving us eight place settings of china that had belonged to Melvin's sister, Gloria, who died before Randy was born. So, being the practical person I am, I decided I would put more "every day" dinnerware on the wedding registry.

As I emptied the dishwasher before dinner yesterday, I thought about how that wedding dinnerware could be a metaphor for marriage itself. Our remaining plates have a few chips and dings. The surfaces aren't pristine any longer.

But isn't that the way we are, too? There are cracks and dings and imperfections in our lives, and, yes, our bodies, too. But we are still of value. 

The bottom of the plates say they are good "from oven to table to dishwasher." A marriage is like that, too. You have to be able to adapt to lots of different circumstances. 

All those plates and cups and saucers didn't end up in my cabinet from one source either. We had many family members and friends who bought a place setting or bought the salt & pepper shakers and gifted them to us at showers and at our wedding. With a lot of people coming together, we ended up with a complete set. Likewise, we've had wonderful support from family and friends during our 36 years of marriage.

The fancy china that Ava gave us has been used for the occasional Easter meal or other special occasion. I know people say you should use your "special" stuff everyday. But I kind of like the well-lived and loved look of our wheat plates. They are more "real."

It's kind of like the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, when a stuffed animal becomes real by being loved:
 "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse to the Velveteen Rabbit. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
From Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit

Yesterday morning, Randy and I moved a bull that had escaped from our pasture and ended up in a neighbor's corral. (Thanks Todd and Ty! Remember what I was saying about people who help you along the way?)
As we were driving back to our corrals, Randy asked, "Did you expect to be doing this on your anniversary 36 years later?" I just laughed and shook my head because 36 years ago, I was more concerned whether the flower girl was going to stand in the right place during the ceremony and whether I'd get down the aisle without tripping in my unfamiliar high heels.

"Well," I told him, "I don't know that I would have imagined I'd be moving a bull on my anniversary. But I expected to still be married. I wouldn't have done it otherwise."

Being married isn't always easy. But through all the imperfections, we have definitely become more "real" and more loved ... just like that Velveteen rabbit. And I couldn't ask for more than that.
For an inside family joke, read this blog post from the early days of the blog, A Living Doll.
 It also talks about the Velveteen rabbit!


  1. "Anonymous" brought a smile to my face, then a lump to my throat. Definitely a special bloke to keep.
    Such a lovely read.

    1. He's a man of few words, but I am blessed to have him. Thanks, Helen!

  2. Happy 36th Anniversary!! (albeit a little late).