This year I’ve posted several times about my husband’s and my courtship forty years ago. (See here and here and here.) Yesterday, November 26, 2017, was our fortieth wedding anniversary. As we did the year we were married, we celebrated throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.
This Thursday we hosted my husband’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a smaller, older crowd than our holiday dinner forty years ago. Then, my parents hosted the entire wedding party and three generations of family members at two tables. My husband-to-be-in-two-days, at age 28, was the oldest person at the kids’ table in the basement. My parents, at age 44, were the youngest people at the grown-ups’ table in the dining room.
This Friday, we rested after our meal preparation for Thanksgiving. Forty years ago on Friday of the holiday weekend, we had the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
This past Saturday evening, my husband and I went to a Christmas music show at the Quality Hill Playhouse in Kansas City. On Saturday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend forty years ago, we were married, followed by a low-key reception at a local hotel in my hometown. Late that Saturday, my husband and I flew to San Francisco, where we stayed at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.
On Sunday—our actual fortieth anniversary—my husband worked and I dealt with a temporary crown that popped off. But in the evening we celebrated with dinner at Piropos, a premier restaurant near our home (though to accommodate my tooth, I ordered soup and seafood ravioli instead of salad and steak, as I had planned). On Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend forty years ago, we had brunch at the Top of the Mark, then headed back to Stanford to prepare for our Monday law school classes.
On June 25, 1955, almost twenty-two years before my husband and I were married, my parents also stayed at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, driving there from Klamath Falls, Oregon, after their wedding. My mother wrote her parents a lovely thank-you note on June 27, 1955, while on their two-week honeymoon in Carmel. My grandmother saved the note, and I have it now.
I was a less grateful daughter and didn’t write my parents while on my brief one-night honeymoon. Nor did I contact them anytime in the week after the wedding. When I did first call my parents the following weekend, there were some hints that they should have heard from me earlier. My only excuse is that I had classes on Monday and a law review note to rewrite in three weeks. That, and I am less thoughtful than my parents were.
As I was going through our good china and silver (most of which we received as our wedding presents) to set the table for Thanksgiving dinner last week, I came across a box with a silver tray in it. The tray falls into the category of “things I forgot I had.”
In the box with the tray was a note from my mother to my husband and me:
“Dear Theresa and Al,
Happy 25th Anniversary! As a silver keepsake-memento for this occasion in your life, this silver tray Nanny Winnie and Papa Gene [my mother’s parents] received from a group of their friends in Klamath Falls on their 25th anniversary at a surprise party (I believe) in 1954.
With our love and prayers, Mother and Dad.
November 26, 2002 — Have a wonderful trip to Aruba.”
My parents were as thoughtful in their choice of gift for our twenty-fifth anniversary as they were after their own wedding, by then almost fifty years in the past. I’m sure I wrote them a thank-you note after receiving the tray, though there is no evidence to prove it. And I’ve never used the silver tray from my grandparents, which is why it became a “thing I forgot I had.” It seems too nice to leave out, plus it would then need polishing on occasion.
This post rambles from events commemorating our fortieth anniversary this year, our twenty-fifth anniversary in 2002, our wedding in 1977, my parents’ wedding in 1955, and my grandparents’ twenty-fifth anniversary in 1954—which happened before I was born. Some of these events are part of my memory. Some were not my memories, but those of my parents and grandparents, and they survive now only as recorded in letters. Or in my blog posts.
Family memories live on through the ages, as long as we keep them alive. By writing them down, I do what I can to keep my family’s memories alive.
Perhaps I will pull out that silver tray from my grandparents this year to hold the Christmas cards we will receive over the next few weeks. That, too, will help me keep alive the memories that are mine, my parents, and my grandparents. And maybe I’ll even build some new memories, so that the silver tray becomes mine as much it was as my grandparents.’
What treasures are part of your family’s memories?