Every year on my anniversary, I like to write a post that reflects on one aspect of my wedding and highlights its wider significance to my marriage. On my first anniversary, I wrote about my wedding ring; year two, the flowers in my bouquet; and year three, the priest’s sermon. I was planning on telling the story about my wedding dress this year, but as I was hanging the jingle bell ornaments on our Christmas tree, I realized that this is a perfect year to talk about the special significance of those bells.
The jingle bell ornaments are homemade. They were originally guest favors I made for our wedding from clusters of 3 bells tied together with ribbon. Since the wedding was so close to Christmas, jingle bells seemed like a fitting favors. Also, since our reception had an Irish theme in honor of our shared Irish heritage (the Mister’s family is VERY Irish, and I’m German, Irish, and Slovak), I liked the subtle reference to the shamrock. There’s also a beautiful Irish wedding tradition involving bells.
At a traditional Irish wedding, guests ring bells to ward off evil and wish happiness to the couple. The couple then displays a bell in their home during their married life. When they argue, they should ring the bell to help restore harmony to the household. As I hung the jingle bell ornaments, I thought about the harmony they represent and how important it is. And how much we’ve needed it this past year.
This year was one of blessings, but also one of chaos—such as the arrival of a new baby and me writing a cookbook. The month leading up to our anniversary was especially crazy. The Little Mister came down with a bad fever on Thanksgiving and needed round-the-clock TLC for several days. I needed extra help with him and chores as I finished my book, and I was up late most nights catching up on whatever editing I couldn’t finish during the day. Christmas gift buying and travel plans—as much as we enjoy them—added another layer to the chaos. Things like sleep, alone time, and time to hang out as a couple were reduced to blurry memories.
At times like this, I have a tendency to fixate on the negatives. I silently resented not having time to myself and not-so-silently fumed when the bathroom went weeks without being cleaned. I was floundering to fulfill my own responsibilities and felt bitter when I had to do one of my husband’s chores. Lucky for me, Advent started just a couple weeks before our anniversary, and since it’s a time dedicated to reflection and preparation, I found myself searching for small, contemplative moments in the chaos.
As I hung the bells on my tree, I found one of those moments. I realized I’d allowed minor problems to put me in a constant state of irritation. The fact is, there are a lot MORE ways the Mister has helped this year—especially the past few months—- and those are more important than the minor irritations.
I thought of all the nights he got up to change the baby without waking me so I could catch up on sleep instead of splitting diaper duty like we usually do, how he gave up his evenings and weekends to baby care so I could write, and the extra effort he put into finding time for just the two of us to relax together. He even used the very first day of his Christmas vacation to clean the bathroom!
The fact is that I have a really awesome husband, and even though life can be crazy, there’s no one else with whom I’d rather face that craziness.
The Mister and I wound up having a wonderful anniversary, and for my birthday this year, one of my best friends bought me an Irish bell I’ve kept on display. It’s like she knew just what we’d need! Lately I’ve been ringing it here and there to remind myself to focus on the things in my marriage that really matter, and I plan to go on ringing it throughout the year.