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Fifty Years

Last weekend, Norm and the kids and I drove to Washington.  We surprised his parents by showing up for their Surprise 
50th anniversary celebration.  Family members planned and invited friends, bought food and decorated…

That night, my sweet brother in law asked, “How was the drive?”  “Sooo great,” I lied.  We knew that twelve hours with four kids in the car would be painful, no matter how many movies they watched.

We knew that making the trip there and back was a challenge.  We knew it might snow on Sunday and that driving back through the mountains on Monday could be tricky.

But in my entire childhood, there are two parties that stand out.  One was when my parents drove us from California to Colorado to be with my dad’s folks for their 50th.  I remember being squished together in the car on a really long roadtrip.  I remember singing songs for them at the party.  We didn’t see our cousins very often, so this was a big deal.  The other was watching my moms’ folks surprise when we remembered their 50th.  My mom had gathered cards and letters from all of her parents’ friends, and they were touched by the outpouring of love and good wishes.

I tried a dozen times to write a tribute fitting for my in-laws today, but each time I’ve come up short.  I am completely unqualified because of my youth and inexperience.  I can’t even imagine the amount of mutual forgiveness and work required to sustain a marriage for so many years.

So instead I’ll share the metaphor of our journey home on Monday.  Our drive home is a metaphor to marriage, and how the blessings outweigh the difficulties.  Rembember how I mentioned snow and treacherous mountain passes?  Well, Monday we started out at 6:45am.  I-84 was closed so we detoured and spent a few more hours in Oregon than we’d hoped.  Norm even broke one of his primary rules of roadtripping:  Never gas up in Oregon. (He has a strong dislike for enabling stupid decisions made by legislators, such as making it illegal for consumers to pump their own gas.)

But how often does that happen in life?  We think we know how to get where we’re going but we’re humbled to realize even the best plans require a detour.  Some of our complaints:
I ran over a rake.
One boy launched a spitwad that hit Norm directly in the eyeball.
The clothes in the canvas cartop carrier got wet in the rain.
Kids bickering about silly stuff, who gets to sit where, etc.
Rural Idaho smelled like manure.

By dusk on Monday, we were frazzled and worn out.  Still hours from home, everyone was grumpy.  I made the kids turn off their movies and brainstorm a list of blessings. Norm has since told me that he appreciated my approach to the Team Nelson grump-fest: count our blessings.   
Nobody went hungry  
Great food at the party
Surprising Kay and Mary was pretty awesome
Saw aunts and uncles and loved ones
Cousins spontaneously played together at the party
Swimming in the Best Western pool
Boys went to a movie with their cousins
Amber singing in the car
Fun playing with dart guns
Karly bunked with Amber one night
Farmland was beautiful
The car was amazing
Nobody was sick
The blessings far outweigh the difficulties.  I hope that when Norm and I reach a milestone like fifty years, we’ll look back and laugh.  I hope we’ll say, “It was worth it,” and that the joy far outweighed the pain.  Today, I honor my in-laws.  I’m glad for their example and their love through all these years.  They have always been so good to me.  Happy Anniversary!

Editor's note: the font in this post is old-school typewriter.  For years Norm's dad sent us letters, typed out painstakingly with two fingers. I'm grateful he's learned to send and receive emails, but we still have stacks of his old letters.


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