Sunday, July 19, 2009
Last weekend, my wife and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. It was a simple celebration - we packed some snacks and headed to the beach, got lost along the way, but still arrived at the beach on time to enjoy the sun and the sand for a good 3 hours. Chicago's Foster Beach is one of the family friendlier ones, and the parking is relatively easy even on busy Saturday afternoons. Dinner was a visit to a Mediterranean restaurant near our place that had a good deal on kiddie meals. We dropped by for some coffee at the nearby Starbucks and went home late in the evening - exhausted but joyful. The next day after church service and lunch, we went looking for an ice cream parlor and found out that it just recently closed. No problem - the nearby grocery store had some ice cream and pretty soon, we were enjoying the treats near a fountain. A visit to a playground and hitting some balls at a tennis court rounded out our anniversary weekend.
11 years seem to have gone by so fast. After 3 children, and a seemingly nomadic existence that saw our family reside and visit 7 countries in 4 continents - still, I have that feeling that we're just starting our journey. I suppose that's a good thing. Better to have that than feeling the opposite.
My wife and I tried recalling how we celebrated our previous anniversaries. I had the better memory as she keeps on saying that part of her memories were lost due to anesthesia given on the three occasions that she gave birth. (Men, we really are blessed not to go through that). Here's my best effort in listing down our celebrations:
1998: got married in Quezon City; a morbid thought but 2 of the few present during our wedding are now gone - 1 was my paternal grandmother, and 1 was my college buddy.
1999: 1st anniversary - had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Timog. Our oldest was born earlier in the year and he was with us for that lunch.
2000: 2nd anniversary - had dinner at a seafood restaurant in Singapore, again, accompanied by our eldest who was now a toddler. We flew to Bangkok for a weekend later that month.
2001: 3rd anniversary - first time to miss my anniversary - I was on assignment in Portugal. A colleague dropped some flowers and a cake for my wife and boys. Our second child was born earlier in the year.
2002: 4th anniversary - missed our anniversary by a few days as I was in Paris. I did give my wife some letters I wrote on the plane coming home. We left the boys and had an evening on our own.
2003: 5th anniversary - we attended our first marriage retreat in Tagaytay. I was a new Christian and it was a huge realization how God had been working in our marriage even when I thought that it was "just chance" that brought us together.
2004: 6th anniversary - our third son was born earlier that year. I can't remember a specific celebration but it most likely was with our children as we couldn't leave our youngest who was breastfeeding at the time.
2005: 7th anniversary - dinner and a movie for the two of us in the Podium area. I remember this as the year we started our discipleship group. We opted out for that particular Monday meeting and then we bumped into our group as we were going for the movie.
2006: 8th anniversary - I'm drawing a blank but most likely, it was an evening just for the two of us in Eastwood - our favorite and convenient hang-out during this period. I'm also seeing photos of a family outing/picnic in UP during the weekend.
2007: 9th anniversary - first year in the US. I took a long lunch break from work, and had lunch at a Japanese restaurant with the family. We then all spent a weekend afternoon boating in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a Filipina colleague and her husband.
2008: 10th anniversary - my mom and all 5 of my sisters greeted my wife. I'm sure they know how difficult a person I am to live with, and appreciated my wife's efforts through the years, hehehe. Also, I got my wife a gift that probably was the first one she approved of in terms of it being a "good deal". (Finally, after 10 years!) And, the family spent a day at a waterpark.
My wife and I joke that we are looking forward to the next 66 or 77 years of married life here on earth. It has been a great journey, and we do feel that the best is yet to come. Not everything is smooth sailing; we do have a lot of challenges and we're working on a lot of things. But at the same time, we are very much aware that part of God's plan for us is to be good stewards of the gifts He has provided. Marriage is one of the best gifts God has showered on His people - for this, we are simply very thankful.