Exodus 20:12 -- "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."
Our children (and grandchildren) honored Steve and me in every way possible last Saturday night. The party they planned revealed that they really know us, love us, and wanted to make us happy.
We knew we were supposed to be ready by 5:30, but we had no idea what would happen at that time. A few minutes ahead of schedule, a black car drove down the driveway, and our three children emerged. Perfect escorts! We spent about 30 minutes driving out to the house they remember most at Cedar Cove, and then drove up to the scene of the party where 14 grandchildren, the in-law children, and the photographer were waiting.
The children explained that they picked the Fellowship Hall at First Baptist for several reasons. 1) This is the church where all 3 of them were baptized. 2) The food preparers needed a full kitchen. 3) The room was big enough for all of us to spread out. 4) There was a stage and a keyboard. 5) It was a really nice place in a convenient spot. . . and the price was right. :)
Laura polled her friends in the Hartselle area and chose the evening's photographer based on their recommendations. Emily Boaz Photography was the winner. Emily was very professional and pleasant. We've only seen a few of her photos so far, but I have every confidence that she captured all of the faces and moments that made the night special.
(Photo by Emily Boaz)
THE FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS
Julie was in charge of flowers and decorations. Her friend and neighbor, Heather McMinn, was a wonderful choice. She owns Create in Me a Pure hART Studio. Heather's style is natural and informal yet very beautiful. The blush-colored and yellow roses combined with vines and spring branches created the perfect environment for our party. Granddaughter Rosemary particularly approved of the sprigs of fresh rosemary at each place setting. :) The china, crystal, and gold chargers added to the elegant tablescapes.
Matt knows how his Momma enjoys food that is elevated and special. He contacted a personal chef who came from Nashville to work her magic in the kitchen for our hungry crew. Chef Tammy Rogers and her sous/assistant for the evening, Deidra Mullins, prepared a fabulous meal. Appetizers were pimento cheese on cornbread squares and flatbread wedges with prosciutto, pear, Gorgonzola cheese, caramelized onion drizzled with local honey. Then came a Caesar salad with homemade parmesan crisps. The entree consisted of prime New York steaks grilled with Greek seasoning, and the sides were twice-baked potatoes with Boursin-chived cream, roasted butternut squash and Brussel sprouts with a maple bacon glaze, and baked gnocchi mac and cheese with havarti, Edam and white cheddar cheese sauce. It was extraordinary!
Chef Tammy is developing quite a list of clients among the Nashville elite with names such as Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Check out her information at www.cheftammy.com.
THE AGENDA AND THE MUSIC
Laura, ever her Momma's daughter, created an agenda for the evening and made sure everything stayed on schedule.
She also created playlists of mine and Steve's favorite songs from dating and early marriage days -- one was enjoyed during the meal, and the other accompanied our dancing.
Daughter-in-law Katie ordered a beautiful cake for us from Sugar Magnolia Bake Shop in Spring Hill, Tennessee. It coordinated perfectly with the roses Heather McMinn selected for the tables.
(Photo by Emily Boaz)
While we were finishing our meal, my 5 piano students went up one at a time to the keyboard to "play the piece they knew the best."
My brother Andy, who is the family techno geek and photographer, put together both a slide show of photos and a wonderful video of different family members and friends sending their greetings via Zoom/video. Because of Covid, the party only included our immediate family, so this was a great way to have the others take part. I heard from my sister, brother, sister-in-law, aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins (from all the way in California), and the lady who did our reception 50 years ago and her son sent a video from Plano, Texas. Steve's brother David lives in Auburn now. His video contribution included lots of scenes from our favorite university campus, and he even got random people in downtown Auburn to say, "Happy Anniversary, Connie and Steve. War Eagle!" Such fun! The video ended with greetings from our sweet Allie (oldest grandchild). Because of her terrible accident and back injury in early March, she wasn't able to be at the party, but it sure was good to see her smiling face.
Then, the grandkids presented a series of skits acting out their perception of some stories they'd heard. Luke portrayed Steve, and Margaret portrayed me -- complete with her drama and red lipstick. :)
Among the scenes was the famous double date when I was with Steve's brother, and Steve was with his then-fiancee. Ya gotta love the little photo-bombers down front.
They acted out the ribbon cutting of Pearson Animal Hospital. (Don't tell them, but there was no such event. We just opened the doors and prayed that someone with an animal would walk through).
There was the incident when we took the kids to Washington, D.C. for a vacation. I wanted them to experience a musical event at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, so I got tickets for Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. By the second act, Steve, Matt, and Julie were sound asleep, and Laura was barely hanging on. So much for cultural exposure. :)
There were others, but you get the idea. What I loved most was the fact that the grands had called and Facetimed each other often to figure out all the details. This group LOVES to put on a show!
Next, Laura, Matt, and Julie got up to share 50 Memories. This was a very lighthearted romp through our years, and they definitely covered some famous lines and times.
Things got a little serious next when each child got up, one by one, and made a speech.
Firstborn Laura talked about what it was like to be raised by such different parents and how our voices often still play in her head.
Julie, the one with 10 children, focused on family values she felt she had learned from us.
Matt chose the word "presence" to describe what has made our marriage work for 50 years.
It was truly an encouraging, affirming and love-filled experience to hear what they had to say.
Then, at pretty much the exact moment we were pronounced man and wife 50 years earlier, they invited Steve and me to the dance floor, and we danced to "When a Man Loves a Woman." So, so romantic.
After that, the music got much more lively, and everyone got in on the action. I loved dancing with my oldest 3 grandsons, and they enjoyed forming a Conga line behind their Granddaddy.
I wish you could have been there to see how Katie, Brian, and David contributed to the success of the evening. Katie, who is always such a servant at our family gatherings, was busy refilling glasses, taking plates, and cutting and serving the cake. Brian had his hands full with Enoch and Beatrix (ages 3 and 1), so Julie could participate fully in the party. David manned the vacuum cleaner when it was time to put things back in order, and I believe he covered the entire floor of the Fellowship Hall! I'm sure the photographer got some shots of them. They are essential elements of our family.
Thank you for allowing me to share all the details of our party and for reading my chronicle of our 50-year marriage. Our children and grandchildren thought of everything they could to make our anniversary truly memorable, and I believe you can tell they succeeded . . . and EXceeded.
Before Laura's crew left to drive 3 hours back to Rome, Georgia, before Matt's crew left to drive 2 hours to Franklin, Tennessee, and before Julie's crew left to put 9 kids to bed (at least 2 hours past their normal bedtime), Steve gathered everyone into a circle. He asked each person to look around at everyone in that circle and reminded each of us that these were people we could always count on to love us unconditionally, to support us and to "have our back." I hope that really sunk in with them. We. Are. Family.
Psalm 127:3-5 (Message Bible) -- "Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep."