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Mediocre Mom Manual: Merry Anniversary, Honey!

My husband and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary yesterday. There are some days it’s difficult to believe we’ve been married that long, and other days when it feels like our wedding date should end in B.C.

Thousands of years ago when we got engaged, our original wedding date was set for June. You know, the month most people get married. There isn’t much going on in June; it’s often the beginning of summer months, the weather is typically gorgeous, and people plan trips to warm tropical islands for their honeymoon. June would have been a very nice marriage month indeed.

But we didn’t get married in June. Instead, we got married in December, for reasons that I’ll skip here on this blog for fear that my children might one day actually start doing the math of my wedding date and their birth date and start asking me, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” For now that question is pure philosophical hype, which is how I intend to keep it.

December seemed like a GREAT time to get married. All those Christmas lights decorating the church! Red and burgundy poinsettias adorning the altar! My wedding colors were gold and burgundy and wouldn’t you know? Everything is red and burgundy in December! Don’t the holidays just ooze romantic walks holding steaming mugs of cocoa? Strolling arm and arm with your loved one while singing Christmas carols? By getting married in December, wouldn’t our marriage and each anniversary mirror the season’s splendor?

Well, let’s just say that thirteen years later I know a lot more about picking a wedding month than I did back when I started flipping through Bride’s Magazine looking for a wedding dress. Intuition tells me that asking my husband for a do-over wouldn’t exactly be great anniversary etiquette. So, I’m listing a few December Marriage Myths for all of you who are single or engaged. If you have a wedding date booked for this month, you seriously might want to reconsider. (Please note that I’m suggesting you reconsider your wedding date, not the person you are going to marry. If you need to do the latter, this posting won’t help you a bit. But good luck.)

Myth #1:

Having an anniversary in December will force me and my spouse to take a break from the holiday stress and really focus on US.

Reality:

If you are ever planning on having children, please be aware that in December, there is no extra time. No extra minutes. If you work at all (inside or outside the home) count on the fact that you will likely operate the entire month on three to four hours of sleep. Between work parties, children’s dance recitals, winter band concerts, setting up and decorating a Christmas tree, purchasing gifts, sending cards, volunteering at the local food bank or homeless shelter, helping your children with Christmas crafts, establishing family traditions, creating moments you hope your children will remember fondly, and pretending you are having fun doing all of it, there is no time to focus on your spouse. Or on yourself. Or on personal hygiene for that matter. There is a good chance you will subsist solely on cookie platters and free appetizers at events. In December you are focused on one goal and one goal alone: make it to December 25th in one piece, still breathing. That’s as high as you set the bar because that’s all the energy you have left. Finding time for intimacy in December? Forget it. If you have fifteen extra minutes to spare where you don’t have a headache and you aren’t tired, you’re going to be spending that time yelling one word: “WRAP!”

Myth #2:

It will be fun spending our anniversary shopping for (and wrapping) Christmas gifts together.

Reality:

I love shopping. I love wrapping presents. I love watching money leave my wallet when I know another person is going to be happy opening that gift. I pick tags off the Salvation Army tree and purchase gifts for people I’ve never met. I love strolling through malls thick with holiday shoppers, eating lunch out, and leaving with arm loads of goods for people on my list. I looked forward to performing this holiday ritual with my husband, the same way a first time mom creates a birthing plan and expects her labor to go accordingly. And then the contractions hit. And the baby’s ass-down.

Ummm, let me just say that shopping with your spouse for holiday presents should be avoided at all costs. This is to ensure that both parties are actually speaking when Christmas rolls around. Celebrating an anniversary after all, is supposed to be a happy, fun time where both parties focus on the many joyous reasons they got married in the first place, not questioning “What the hell was I thinking?” Shopping and spending money with your spouse typically does not engender these warm feelings. I know I’m generalizing here and there may be many spend-thrift husbands, but watching money leave my hand and wallet is about as painful for my husband as a root canal with no anesthesia. It’s not that he’s stingy or selfish, he just has no idea what things cost, and therefore everything costs A LOT. He’s also a pragmatist, so while I’m focused on the persons happy reaction to our gift, he’s envisioning the green bar on our account balance tick-tick-tick towards zero. And into the red. And into the overdraft account. Which happens every year in December and rights itself come January, but my husband doesn’t realize that this is the process. Wrapping gifts together? Please. My husband hates wrapping. I hate watching him wrap. He feels like bows and ribbons are a waste. I like the way they glitter under the tree lights. It’s taken me quite a few failed shopping trips with deflated expectations to understand that the best gift I could give him (and me) for our anniversary, was to do all the shopping and wrapping myself. He is really, really good at opening those presents though.

Myth #3:

It will be a great opportunity to get away for an overnight and revel in the romance of the decorations of the season—when everything is covered in tiny, twinkly lights.

Reality:

I’ve already addressed that there is no time during December for “getting away,” for a night let alone a weekend, but even if you DID have time, you certainly won’t have any money. Even if you try to plan ahead with those well-intentioned Christmas savings accounts, you still have to be diligent about spending that money on gifts, and not on pizza or bills, or to fix the clunker that you drive because the engine light keeps coming on. Especially when you have children, the drain on your money reservoir starts in August or September when the kids go back to school, the activity fees are due, seasonally appropriate clothes need to be purchased, and kids start buying school lunch. Inevitably between Thanksgiving and December 25th, something in your house is going to break down, stop working, need to be serviced, freeze up, or otherwise cause you to replace a large appliance, which will require you to dip into that Christmas savings account you swore would only buy gifts. Thinking about spending money on an overnight at a hotel for you and your spouse gets thrown out the window in favor of providing Santa the presents he needs to continue living in the minds of your beautiful, wide-eyed children. And romance? Romance is having your spouse lick the envelopes for the holiday cards. Kiss the children as he tucks them in bed so you can continue wrapping gifts downstairs. That’s all the licking and kissing I care about in December.

This year my husband and I went to lunch at Legal Seafood (a total holiday splurge) and watched Bridesmaids on DVD after I finished typing this and the kids were in bed. We like to live on the edge so we made popcorn and drank hot chocolate. Happy 13th Anniversary, honey!

How ‘bout you? Does your anniversary get lost in other holiday or seasonal celebrations? Anyone LIKE having an anniversary in December? Is celebrating your anniversary what you thought it would be like before you tied the knot? Let us know!

Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at www.eastcoastmusings.blogspot.com. You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one.

2 Comments

  1. Kristi Marsh

    December 20, 2011 at 8:37 am

    You know I love your writing – your wit, your humor – looking forward to the day you compile them into a pretty little book for my coffee table and I can peruse them with my cup of tea!

  2. KathyKibby

    December 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Hahahahahah…..so, so, true! Been married for 34 years with an anniversary in December…remember thinking the same things when we set the date! What were we thinking? Four children later, I told them all to please pick a wedding date anytime other than in December; and to plan children for the other 11 months also….we have a daughter with a December birthday, but that’s another whole subject! Thanks for the great writing!

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