Hey – we survived Christmas, New Year and most of the school holidays! Cause for celebration! Of course there is one more week of the holidays before the children return to school, so anything can happen (and probably will). How was your Christmas celebration? Ours had an interesting and slightly traumatic start when the new dog (Buddy) discovered and ate most of the contents of the Christmas stockings. Luckily there was only white chocolate in them, but he also found a wrapped gift with chocolate and tried to eat that, along with adding teeth marks to a few other boxes. Between that and Dottie (the small and crazy dog) depositing a poo on the floor just inside the back door that my parents stepped in as they came in to say Merry Christmas it was not an auspicious start! Buddy was then put outside to reflect on his misdeeds, and took himself for a wander, was found by a passing car and deposited at the local vet clinic, 15 minutes away. We located him through the powers of Facebook and eventually had our Christmas meal at about 3pm. In between all the dog drama we shared some lovely family time, and enjoyed watching as each one of us opened our presents. My efforts in making presents was worth it – the children all loved their new pyjamas, my eldest chick is extremely excited by her new quilt, and my mother liked the table runner that I embroidered for her. I was also sent a photo of my very excited niece wearing the pjs that I had made her, so they were also a success!
The big focus for us throughout the holiday period was actually an event after New Year. On 10 January my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We couldn’t let such an occasion pass unmarked, so we held a party and invited family and friends. The best thing about having family who live so far away from us (or is it that we live so far away from them?) is that when they come to visit they don’t just come for a couple of hours – they come for a few days so we get to spend time with them doing ‘normal’ things! This was definitely the case on this occasion. My father has 9 siblings and 6 of them were able to attend. My mother’s siblings all sent their best wishes as did those of my father’s siblings who couldn’t join us. Two sets of aunt and uncles stayed with us for a few days, along with my sister and niece and my brother. My brother’s attendance was a surprise for my parents – and it was a true surprise with lots of joy! Time spent talking to family over breakfast or while working in the kitchen was a real treat and made the whole week very special.
For the party itself my aunts helped with cooking, my brother and uncle tackled the grass cutting, everyone chipped in to tidy the garden, and one of my uncles braved Costco with me for shopping! My sister helped with all the decorations, which were lovely, and my sister and brother stepped in to keep the kitchen running and food appearing throughout the evening. It really was a lovely party – kids running around in the garden, adults catching up with old friends and new, and some great family traditions played out, including the family tradition of singing a song written about the couple (in this case to the tune of ‘A bicycle built for two’), signs being held up during the speeches to encourage the audience to clap, cheer or hiss, and lovely memories shared of a wonderful life together.
I am so very fortunate to have parents who have been married for this long. They are the first to admit that it hasn’t always been easy, and that they have had to work to maintain their relationship, but their commitment to each other is tangible and their love for each other continues to keep them strong, and it really does serve to show that great relationships exist.
6 Tips for celebrating a Golden Wedding Anniversary
After it was all over I realised that we had learnt some great tips to share with our friends who might also be hosting a party for their parents in a similar way, so I put together a few of them to share with you all. They are a bit Australian centric, but the ideas can be used in other countries even if the names change!
1. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has a protocol section that will arrange for the Prime Minister to send a letter to the couple to commemorate the occasion. (I found this out after the fact!)
2. If you are Catholic you can arrange to have a papal blessing certificate sent to them to commemorate the occasion by speaking to the admin staff at your local church office. (The certificate is, as you can imagine, quite ornate!)
3. To create poster sized reprints of the original wedding photos I scanned them onto a USB stick then went to Officeworks and had them print the black and white photos on plain paper at A2 size. Cost per print? $4. A colour photo on thicker paper but still at A2 size was $10. I used Ikea frames that I already owned to hang them and they looked great!
4. We had a croquembouche cake as the ‘wedding cake’. These delightful piles of choux pasty filled with custard and drizzled with caramel toffee and spun sugar with gold leaf were made by a fantastic pastry chef here in Canberra. Natalie van den Bosch of the soon-to-open patisserie Le Bon Melange created this beautiful dessert that had everyone lining up for seconds! (The fact that she had been part of a youth group that my parents ran many years ago in another part of the country was a nice personal twist!)
5. My sister created a blessing tree. This was a ‘tree’ of gold twigs with tiny lights that she arranged in a vase, with tags for the guests to write their blessings for the couple. It was lovely to read the messages after the party.
6. I designed the invitations to the party, and to the house mass that was held on the day of their anniversary, using www.canva.com. This awesome site allows you to design for free, or a for a small charge, using elements that graphic designers use. The invitations looked professional (if I do say so myself!)
I hope that the holiday season has been kind to you. I have been using the time to do some painting – walls, furniture etc, so stand by for some further updates. (Although the photo from the anniversary party does show a newly painted wall, so that can count as a sneak preview!)