A couple was celebratin’ their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a reception. They were standin’ in line greetin’ their friends and about halfway through, she hauled off and hit him. He looked surprised and said, “What was that for?” She said, “For fifty years of bad sex!” He thought about that a minute and then hauled off and hit her. Now it was her turn to look surprised and she said, “What was that for?” He answered, “For knowing the difference!” 

The earliest references to wedding anniversaries date from the 1800s. They seem to have originated in the Germanic region, where the custom was for the spouse to crown his wife with a silver garland when they had been married for twenty-five years. Gold became the second traditional anniversary crown, after fifty years.

These thoughts are on my mind because yesterday my wife, Jo Anne, and I marked our fiftieth wedding anniversary.

An ancient Greek proverb says, "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." If we follow this line of thought, we might conceive of a marriage as a tapestry woven not for ourselves, but as a benefaction for our children and grandchildren.

Jo Anne has been a golden thread in the tapestry of our long life together, giving it meaning and direction.

The symbolism of golden thread—spirituality and purity—fits her precisely. Viking housewives spun and wove all the cloth, and the spindle came to represent womanly wisdom, virtue and industry. In the hands of Frigg, the Norse goddess imaged above by InertiaK, the spindle became strong magic. The kind of magic Jo Anne brought to our union.

In my Ukrainian religious tradition, the sacrament of marriage is acknowledged as a union, not a contract. No vows are made in our marriage ceremony.

A Ukrainian wedding, as in other Eastern churches, begins with the couple being “betrothed” with the exchange of rings. Prayers call on God to come into the lives of the couple and unite them in one mind and wed them in one flesh. A high point of the ritual comes when the priest places a crown on the heads of the bride and groom to signify the dawn of a new kingdom to be ruled by the couple—side by side.

For Jo Anne and me, fifty years later, the crowns might be a bit battered by the passing of decades, but the heartbeats are intensified. As novelist Radclyffe writes in Love's Masquerade:

When we follow the conventional milestones, meting out our lives with birthdays and graduations and anniversaries and funerals, we are left with voids along the way—vast stretches of empty space lost forever, never to be filled. As time grows short, the significance of each moment increases, until finally every heartbeat is of monumental importance.

In my next blog, “Thanksgiving, Again and Always”


Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon:

Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.

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