My idea of a 45th wedding anniversary is a quiet celebration with my family over dinner. But with five young grandchildren, including a newborn, that’s hardly possible these days.
Granted, it’s not the golden extravaganza but nonetheless, still a milestone and by today’s marital standards, somewhat unique.
The last thing in the world I would want is a function hall with loud, boisterous music and a guest list that causes me some backlash. I had enough of that planning four weddings for my three children.
“How about a trip to some exotic place?” came the suggestion. “We could do Aruba, Bermuda, even Hawaii. Maui must be great in winter.”
We’re talking February and the sound of sun and fun on some exotic island certainly seemed appealing. My wife was on to something good.
“Everybody does Maui,” she shot back. “Let’s think of Kauai. It’s heaven on earth.”
I did some research on Kauai and found it to be touted as “the garden island” for its unspoiled natural paradise, its dramatic scenery, vast mountains, and cascading waterfalls colored by rainbows.
Walking barefoot along a turquoise Pacific amid silver white sand would reveal untold pleasures. The thought of doing an eight-day junket in Paris and London offered sound debate. We took that trip for our 30th anniversary 15 years ago and loved it so much, we vowed to return.
Someone else recommended the Emerald Isle for its medieval castles and luscious green countryside. We often talked about it but have never gone. The same could be said for a Scandinavian junket where the eyes of Copenhagen and Oslo are peering at me.
“Try us,” they seem to beckon. “The spectacular fjords and fairy tale villages make us a scenic delight.”
Listening to others talk about their ideal vacation sites is a lot like watching a horse race. We’re going nowhere fast. The truth behind the matter is quite simple. I can have fun anywhere. Give me a warm beach with a golden sunset and I’m in heaven.
The money we’ve spent putting our children through college and subsidizing their weddings are the necessities of life. With family, the priorities are often them rather than us.
“You owe it to yourself,” my neighbor insisted. “The bills will always be there. Sometimes, you have to do what’s right for you. Live for today. Travel. See the world.”
The guy had a point. Spend it while you can and worry about tomorrow when it comes. Selfish as this may sound, I’d rather die a pauper and have enjoyed my retirement years to the maximum than leave it all to my heirs.
I was browsing inside a bookstore and came across a book on how to enjoy Europe on $10 a day. The book was selling for $20. A visit to AAA produced a stockpile of alluring pamphlets. So what would it be?
A visit to my granddaughter’s bedroom revealed the obvious. Disney creatures by the droves. There was the Little Mermaid and Minnie, Cinderella and stuffed Dalmatians. Had I not known better, I might have found myself inside the Magic Kingdom.
“If I had one wish,” she divulged, “it would be Disneyworld. Some of my friends have gone but not me.”
The girl with the deep blue penetrating eyes melted my heart.
My children have never enjoyed a visit to Disneyworld, not to mention their own. My two eldest grandchildren will be eight and six by the time February rolls around—a perfect age. What’s more, their parents will be observing a 10th anniversary.
So we got to thinking, to heck with Hawaii and Europe. Out with Bermuda and the Scandinavians. Maybe we should recalculate this trip and include the family. What better way to enjoy such a 45th than with my loved ones?
“Make the arrangements,” I told my daughter-in-law. “Everything goes. Put the frills aside and let’s focus on the thrills.”
And so it went. A week’s stay inside the theme park at the Caribbean. Special meal plans with character dinners. Roundtrip fares to Orlando for six, maybe seven, if my daughter hops aboard. Shuttle service to and from the different venues. And more likely than not, a treasure chest of souvenirs and mementoes.
What started out as a quiet trip for two to an unknown destination has since been transposed into a carnival atmosphere amid throngs of visitors, long lines and exorbitant prices. Let yourself go, I remind myself.
In the end, I can join those seven little dwarfs singing, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to the poor farm I shall go.”