My husband and I are big on traditions. I knew early on in our marriage that creating traditions unique to our family was something I desired and wanted to pursue. It took very little coaxing for David to jump on board. And if you were to ask about the traditions we have since established, they are equal parts him and equal parts me. Most of the traditions are very simple and yet perfectly beautiful in our eyes.
Some of our favorite traditions involve telling our boys our LOVE STORY. We’ve been doing this for years, way before they even seemed to care. There are three primary times during the year that the boys hear the most details of our love story: the anniversary of our 1st date, the anniversary of our second 1st date (yep, there’s a saga that obviously goes along with that one), and our wedding anniversary. Of course, there are times outside of these celebratory dates that we share pieces of our love story with them, but the traditions tied to these dates includes giving the boys a much closer picture into our early life together.
David and I are fortunate enough to live a short diving distance from Taylor University, where we met. Every year on our wedding anniversary, we return to the university with our boys. We revisit the literal place where we first met. We revisit the spots where we first really noticed each other. We walk paths that we traveled together. We point out where we each lived. We return to the restaurant where we had our first date. We even order the same specialty strawberry lemonade that we shared that first night.
Throughout the evening…during the drive to the university, as we walk about campus, and during our dinner at the cute diner/ice cream shop as we drink the same strawberry lemonade we had many moons ago…we talk about details of our love story with our boys.
As the years progress and as our boys age, their attention span and desire to engage in the discussion has grown. Early on, the trips down memory lane consisted more of pointing out the physical structures where we spent time together. At that point, those were the details to which they could attach. The process has since morphed into something much more.
As we return to those places now, we talk about what drew us to one another. I talk about how their father made me laugh and about my respect for his love of Jesus and people. Their father tells them about his reaction to seeing me for the first time and how he knew he wanted to pursue something deeper. We tell them about the days of getting to know each other…the walks, the bike rides, finding ways to cross paths even when it meant going out of the way between classes. We tell them about meaningful conversations we had about life and God and music and our dreams for the future.
AND, we tell them about some of the heartache. How figuring out relationships can be messy and take commitment and work. We tell them about the 15-month break-up and the hard lessons we learned about love and life and our identity. We tell them how really good things can come from unpopular decisions. And we tell them about our process of returning to one another and our decision to shortly thereafter move towards marriage.
We tell our boys about our love story because it matters to us.
We want them to know that being attracted to someone because they make you laugh and because you admire the way they love God and others are pretty great reasons.
We want them to see that human love is not perfect.
We want them to see that journeying together takes patience and gentleness and forgiveness.
We want them to know that bike rides and walks and ice cream shops were our favorite dates then AND our favorite dates now.
We want them to know that their parents have chosen to love each other even after hurting one another.
And while we share our love story for all of these reasons, I am recognizing a more precious product that emerges from the experience…
Each time David and I talk about our early life together, we return to seeing each other through the innocent eyes of a new and exciting relationship.
We remember how we have traveled up mountains and down valleys together.
We are reminded of what it means to choose to love one another even when we have been hurt.
And we are reminded of the reasons we chose one another in the first place.