When I was freshman at Underwood High School, my business teacher, Julie (Hanson) Driessen, had our general business class fill out a questionnaire. It pertained to what we would be doing 25 years from our high school graduation. She attended our class reunion years later and returned them to each of us.
I had stated that I would probably be involved in the arts - perhaps a photographer even owning a studio at some point. Next would be something to do with antiques - maybe a store or even working in a museum.
In addition to this information, I added that I would, around the age of 28, marry a gal of Scandinavian heritage, hopefully blonde, smarter than me, and she should be able to play the piano and have a real talent for sewing. Of course, from time to time she would be willing to participate in a real adventure or two.
Guess what? It happened!
On June 18, Jan and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It is amazing how quickly 25 years can zoom past, and now that it has, I have some insight I feel that is worth sharing.
I was a junior in high school when my parents marked their silver wedding anniversary and I remember the day well. Mom and Dad went out for supper, drove to the church in Mercer where they said their vows, and then to the Christensen homestead north of Mercer.
Cottage Cheese Cake
The one thing that has appeared on our table (almost as often as salt and pepper!) is cottage cheese. Lydia loves cottage cheese - from mixed with Spanish rice to this recipe.
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
Combine all ingredients like pie crust, using egg for liquid. Line a torte pan that is 5 inches deep.
1 1/2 pounds cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Rind of 1 lemon, grated
Juice of 1 lemon
5 egg whites
2 tablespoons cream
Sieve cheese twice. Add sugar, egg yolks, flour, nutmeg, butter, lemon rind and lemon juice. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites and cream. Pour into crust. Bake in a 425 degree oven 5 minutes, reduce to temperature to 325 degrees and bake until filling is firm (approximately 1 hour).
I wondered at that point if I would look anything like my dad did when I celebrated 25 years of marriage. The proof is now available, and we have a number of considerable likenesses.
The first thing I noticed about Jan was that she was very smart - yet she gave into my sense of humor and often laughed at my jokes. When thinking about humor, it's good to realize that it has two elements. One is the acceptance of life's incongruities, and secondly, the ability not to take ourselves too seriously.
Humor requires a sense of honesty about yourself - like me realizing that 25 years of marriage causes a number of body shifts which are especially noticeable when standing in front of a full-length mirror. I can now say that Dad and I pretty much celebrated our silver anniversaries looking very much alike.
Over the years, we have taken time to laugh. It has been good for our souls, and I am sure for our bodies as well.
The very first week of our marriage brought about a moment of laughter that still makes me smile. I was in need of a pair of summer shorts, and being newlyweds, Jan decided to come with me shopping in Rugby for them. Our looking took us to the former Pamida Store. I found a couple of pairs to try on.
Naturally, I headed to the fitting room which I realized was shared by both females and males because on the hooks were two ladies mumus. (You remember - those flowing, usually flowery women's garments!) I simply could not resist. Hanging there soft, like a flower petal, and light like the wing of a butterfly, was this light blue mumu with bright flowers darting about. Jan was outside and said "How are you doing?" I opened the door and stepped right out. Those little bell sleeves were happy as they could be as we exited the fitting booth.
Jan took one look and was off like a deer on the run, and of course, being a newlywed, I chased right after her. Like a dancer I went from first position in ladies apparel to fifth position, as I glided by the ladies blouses and right past the checkout counter. Jan was now in the entrance and about to leave the building.
When I did my best to express myself, my voice was a combination of Marjorie Main (better known as Ma Kettle) and Jimmy Durante. I said in a voice loud and clear "Honey come back - they also have it in orchid if you feel that color would suit me better!"
We were new to Rugby and had just opened the studio. I can honestly say I did not know a soul in Pamida. As I returned from the entrance, I was greeted by several sets of eyes that looked just like Peter Sellers in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" movie. I looked them directly in the eye and said, "This just goes to show what impact the wrong color can have on a newlywed moment!" I can assure I have not done this since!
Over the years, I have come to realize that some of our most enjoyable moments have been spent on our porch reading privately or to each other. This has been a place in our home to think. Our world can keep us very busy if we let it, and that can be very difficult on a marriage. It is not necessary to fill every hour with whirling activity and chatter. A marriage needs moments and even hours sometime of quiet reflection.
We both know that forgiveness and understanding play a very important role in marriage. After all, we are human and mistakes will happen. The words "I am sorry" or "please excuse or forgive" can do wonders.
Another moment of inspiration for me is our meal times as we take time to pray, visit and enjoy the blessing we have been given. This break in our daily, busy routines is most refreshing. Like prayers in the evening, this allows God to enter and change the canvas we think we desire. I have been amazed and grateful for the new dreams he has painted on our hearts over the years.
The greatest change to the canvas in our lives was the birth of our daughter Lydia. As a couple we knew our lives were meaningful, and without children, we had the blessing of giving our time to others. This led and guided us in many meaningful directions that have helped us to be guiding parents to Lydia.
In marriage, you realize that your spouse's family truly does become your family. How can they not? With them, you often spend special weekends, holidays, moments of joys and sorrows. In the 25 years that I have been married to Jan, our combined families have been such a blessing. The support, encouragement and understanding given by my in-laws, Norman and Delores, are an example to live by.
Yes I did get the girl of my freshman request, and as all of you know, I am way better for it!