August 22, 2012

The Gift of Memories

As I mentioned in my vacation recap posts, we were actually in the Bahamas to celebrate my parents' 35th wedding anniversary.  With five years of marriage and 2 children under my belt, I can certainly appreciate how much of an accomplishment 35 years of marriage (plus raising 3 children) really is!
Truthfully, though, my parents didn't just accomplish...they've done an amazing job.  As we sat around together as a family for the week, I realized it really is a tribute to them and the way we were raised that all of us remain so close.  They provided us with a loving, nurturing, supportive environment stemming from the love and respect they maintain as a couple.  They are truly my marriage (and probably life) role models.
But in the months leading up to this big anniversary, my brother, sister, and I were left with our typical tremendous challenge: what the heck do you get two people that have given you so much?  We quickly realized that there was nothing material that we could get them that they didn't already have/we could afford/they would even want!  So, instead we turned more in the sentimental direction.  On top of their 35 years of marriage, my parents actually dated about 8 before that (they were high school sweethearts).  In that time, they have touched a lot of people's lives and created so many shared memories, so when we (as in my sister and I) saw the memory idea on Pinterest we knew it was perfect for them.
In case you are unfamiliar with it, we sent out a letter to special people from various stages of their lives together.  We asked those people to send a letter or email describing their favorite memory of my parents.  Honestly, most people didn't necessarily follow that direction and instead chose to send a general memory and/or anniversary wish, but in the end, it didn't matter.  What we got was a collection of over 40 letters and emails to share with my parents.
My mom is pretty nosy when it comes to this stuff and had been trying to figure out for months what we were going to do for their anniversary, so when we presented her with this rather boring package I think she was a tad shocked.
But then they started reading.  And the laughs started coming, and the tears started flowing, and we all sat together listening to a brief history of their relationship of sorts all told by the people who had helped shape it.

My dad is hard to get, but we definitely got him with this one.  They were both touched beyond belief and it really was special to watch them relive so much.  It really was perfect!
Oh, and since this post is about their gifts, I should also mention that we had actually already gotten them a family portrait before we left for vacation.  My brother, sister, and I had done the same thing for their 25th anniversary, but obviously that one didn't have the boys in it...or even Josh or my sister-in-law for that matter.  We all agreed that the 10 year update was significant and appropriate.

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