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Golden Anniversary

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. CONGRATULATIONS! Fifty years. An anniversary like this is remarkable for a few reasons: to stay together that long, to both be alive and well, and to still like each other after all these years.

Let's take a quick trip down memory lane first.  My mom and dad met at a college dance.  When my dad proposed, he was working at a ski area, and she was skiing that day. My dad taught me to ski when I was a girl, and he taught me to love the mountains. My mom taught me to love the ocean.

Marriage is a funny thing. In our culture we make a big deal about the wedding and plan expensive parties and receptions. But the real work begins AFTER the ceremony. Anytime my father-in-law talks about attending a "Wedding Deception," I have to laugh and cringe at his dry wit.

I learned many great life lessons from my parents through the years. My mom taught me to serve, saying, "You love the people you serve." She has served us her whole life. We didn't have much money. My brother and I had paper routes. Folding and delivering the Sunday paper took hours. Our hands would be black from the ink. Weekdays we'd ride our bikes to deliver papers but the Sunday morning route required help from my mom to drive it, because the papers were too heavy. And then we'd hustle and get ready for church. He donated his earnings from the paper route to buy food and fun for the family that year.

I also remember how my sister and I wanted to take dance lessons.  Once again, the budget didn't have room for expensive dance lessons. So my mom worked a deal that included cleaning the studio on weekends, so her girls could learn something new.

During those years, they somehow managed to buy a piano for our family. It was mainly for me. Later my sisters learned to play it too. I'm pretty sure that that sacrifice meant my parents gave up something else.

When I was in high school, my mom's example of service and sacrifice continued. As a sophomore I volunteered at an elementary school once a week. It was 45 minutes from our house, but they had a wonderful program. I thought it was great. As a teenager, I never once thought about the details: my mom gave up one afternoon each week, sat in the car (probably with my younger sister) and waited and acted as taxi. But her sacrifice in driving me each week led to an opportunity that made a lasting impression on my life. All these years later, I now have teenagers of my own.  All the hours of driving add up.

Speaking of driving, my crew and I made decent time on our road trip and arrived just in time to celebrate my parents' big day. My brother helped lead and coordinate a grand get-together. Getting all siblings and their families in the same place at the same time wasn't easy. Some live near and some far away, but all have complex schedules of their own. So we planned a picnic when we'd all be in town.

We had a photographer who took family pictures. At first, I was reluctant.  I've gained 10+ lbs since last summer and taking pictures when you're chubby is just lame. Also, one son had a bandage on his face because he had a cyst removed right before our trip. If you look closely,  my youngest is making a weird face.  But I love this family photo because it's real.
photo credit Lorie Fleischer

My siblings did a lot of work to put this picnic together. We had great food, games to play, time together to talk and catch up. We've realized over the years that trying to go to a restaurant for dinner, with this many people, is impossible.  It's much more fun when there's a park nearby where kids can play.

The kids had fun climbing these fake rocks. 

 I love how my sister can make my big kid grin.

 My sister in law brought bubble potion, it was a huge hit.

The gold balloons were for each year of marriage.  The grandkids definitely had fun playing with them. But since they took up the whole car, we didn't even try to bring fifty balloons to the picnic. If fifty balloons are big enough to fill an entire car, then imagine the impact of fifty years. In these fifty years together, they've created a wonderful family.

I'm grateful to my parents for many things. To my mom, who chose to stay home full time and raise her kids, I'm grateful for her example of being a homemaker. To my dad, who provided for us and chose to pass down traditions of faith and kindness, it means more than I can say.

I remember a few difficult seasons, when they chose to work through incredible trials. They each have strengths and quirks that require continued patience and forgiveness. As their daughter, I'm grateful for a happy childhood, for parents who love me, and for their continued love and devotion to each other through the years.


  1. What a great tribute. My parents' 50th anniversary is on the 29th, and I've been busy planning a celebration for them. We won't get all their children there (7 is just too many for us to coordinate with), but I loved reading your words and getting some inspiration for what to do in a couple weeks!


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