When I was in my 20s, my birthday was my favorite holiday. I’d take the day off and celebrate, well, me.
As my kids were born, one then another three years after the first, and a third following five years later, my favorite holiday became Thanksgiving. I loved many things about it but most of all these three: friends and family came together, there was no stress to buy gifts, and we all ate, drank and talked. (Sorry, Santa!)
But with each passing year, as work gets more intense and kids grow up and there are more demands with the same amount of time, my favorite holiday has shifted again. It’s now my wedding anniversary.
Tad solipsistic, perhaps. But hear me out.
We’ve had 16 anniversaries so far – out of 19 years I’ve known my wife – and each one has been a celebration of us but also a time to reflect.
On every anniversary, I value that dinner, that night, those days more and more each year.
With three kids, three dogs, two full-time jobs, I can let my birthday slip by with a dinner. We moved Thanksgiving to Florida in recent years: it’s still good but smaller.
But having just returned from three – count them, three – days away with my wife for our anniversary, I realized how special and important that time is. It was way longer than any other anniversary celebration we’ve had. That came out of convenience – our former caregiver G is visiting and she offered to watch the kids while we went away for THREE days. (We only got an overnight – about 22 hours – for our 10th anniversary.)
What was so great about this one? Not anything that would have impressed by twentysomething single self. But it was mind-blowing for this Lead Dad of three.
- We were together without interruptions. No kids. No dogs. No alarm clocks. No morning rush. No evening race to the finish. We still had some work to do. But when someone was on a call or a zoom, the other was just there.
- We read books.
- We rode bikes and walked on the beach. (Cliches are cliches for a reason.)
- We were free to make our own choices, like it was 2007 all over again. Sushi restaurant wouldn’t take our order over the phone? Let’s open a bottle of wine and eat leftovers instead.
- But most of all we were together, and that was what was so amazing.
Our flight home left at lunchtime, and by then we both missed our girls. That’s a great feeling. We’d had time to relax and be as a couple.
I doubt I’ll be able to this again next year or even for our 20th. I’m not greedy. A simple dinner out or an overnight near our house is just fine.
But if we are to work and parent and be, what better way to reaffirm everything than a few days away? I just wish the cell service had been worse!