Reflections on 40 Years

By: Dennis Bates

In one month and one day (The Fourth of July) my wife and I will celebrate our…gasp…40th Wedding Anniversary. My male buddies constantly point out the irony of getting married on Independence Day, but, if nothing else, it makes the date easier to remember.

 Actually, I have very little time for men who supposedly forget their anniversaries or their wives birthdays, and I can’t believe that they really do. How do you forget something that important? I had a friend who asked me once if I thought it was horrible that he “forgot” his anniversary. His wife was furious and he thought I might do the male bonding thing with him and provide support for his minor oversight.

 I told him I didn’t think it was horrible that he allegedly forgot their anniversary…I said it was totally inexcusable, and I thought his wife was right to be furious. Then I piled on telling him that she probably wasn’t as mad as she was hurt. Not surprisingly he never asked me a question like that again. 

I will admit that after 40 years it is challenging to come up with a suitably romantic and impressive anniversary present for my wife. She really wants very little, and I never seem to to provide that on far too many occasions. Looking back at those 40 years I think the best presents were the gifts I bought her when we were first married and had no money. I remember going out for a pizza and going to a baseball game when tickets were still relatively cheap so we could watch the free fireworks after the game. And I remember buying her a giant size Hershey chocolate bar with almonds because that was her favorite. It still is. 

We took a Caribbean cruise for our 25th Anniversary and sometimes just went out for dinner at some special place that was a little fancier than most places we go. The past several years we have rented a condo on our favorite Florida Beach and watched the fireworks all up and down the beach from our balcony overlooking the ocean. 

There have been many other less spectacular anniversaries too. Sometimes what I thought sounded like a good idea when I thought it, didn’t turn out to be all that great when I tried to carry it out. It happens.

 But if there was one thing I could do over and do better—and there is definitely more than one—Iwould be that cheerful giver that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians. See I don’t think he was talking only about how much money you give the church there; I think he was talking about having the right attitude when you make a gift. He says we should give what we have decided in our heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but cheerfully because God loves that. 

Anniversaries  should be celebrations, not obligations. They should be a time to rejoice remembering the good times, laughing about the bad times and emulating the really great times over and over again. They should be happy, cheerful and a renewal of the love that is, after all a reflection of His love. Whatever we do as a husband or wife can never be big enough, expensive enough or special enough if we do it without love. The corollary of that is that no gift can ever be too small or insignificant if it is wrapped in love.

 I wish I could go back and rewrap a lot of my presents, but I can’t; it just doesn’t work that way, so I’ll just have to try again this year to get the right paper and maybe even put a pretty bow on it…and be cheerful, giving from my heart, not reluctantly or out of compulsion, but out of  love.

4 Responses to Reflections on 40 Years

  1. LOVE THIS POST! Our 18th is Monday. Must think of something… with love.

  2. Dennis says:

    Thanks, Staci. I’m sure you will; it’s your nature to be that way.

  3. alvin kibaru says:

    How insightful this post is.You just got it altogether dennis.
    Alvin all the way from kenya (Africa)

  4. Dennis says:


    Thank you. It’s kind of you to respond. We have a big road race here every July (7 miles) and the Kenyans usually win it. They’ve become local favorites.

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