Happy Holidaze

FsFTB has been busy getting her holiday ON!

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Well, okay, not quite THAT on. The credit for this incredible light display goes to Peter Archie, whose commitment to seasonal decor awes me. It took hubby Steve and me an entire afternoon and then some to select, decorate, and hang two lighted garlands and a wreath on our front porch entry; another few weeks passed before we got to the trees. Yes, plural. Between the two of us, we’ve been amassing ornaments for 104 years.

In fact, we visited the above awe-inspiring light display a few days after the holiday, because we couldn’t cobble the time any earlier. This first-married-Christmas thing has been beautiful, surprising, and not a little intense. Continue reading

The Newlywed Lunarversary: A Matter of Time

This Saturday is mine and Steve’s three-month wedding anniversary. When we commented over Thanksgiving that we could go out to dinner in Portland to celebrate the date since we’d be traveling, one of the boys guffawed, teasing us for tracking months, saying three wasn’t much of an accomplishment since most anyone could make a marriage last that long. (Well, except Britney Spears.) But recent events have reminded me that none of us is guaranteed days much less years, so we might as well honor the middling milestones. I’m glad I married a man who shares that same spirit, even if we sometimes struggle to make it happen.

As our first-month anniversary approached, I thought it would be sweet for us to acknowledge our wedding date each month, but I knew if we were going to, we’d need to make a deliberate plan. Both Steve and I are prone to letting the distractions of the day-to-day get the best of our good intentions. Planning something even small and silly would be good for us, help us stay in balance and keep romance present. Continue reading

Take Positive Action: an alternative “advent” calendar

positive: constructive; helpful; being with reward

action: something done or performed; energetic activity; an exertion of power or force

advent: a start to something, an arrival, a beginning

Thursday night, I yelled at my husband. We were having a heated discussion about pretty much the only thing we ever have heated discussions about: this crazy world we live in and the utterly inadequate responses of our leaders and media outlets to that craziness.

I have never been a yeller. My parents did not yell at each other when they argued about things, and I have always prided myself on my ability to fight fairly and reasonably, without losing my cool.

I yelled because I’m angry. I yelled because I’m unspeakably horrified. Because I cannot fathom how two people would leave their six month old baby at home to go on a shooting rampage killing co-workers. Because I cannot understand how someone who claims to be “pro-life” could take aim at people in a Planned Parenthood clinic—or how other “pro-lifers” could say those people deserved to die. I yelled because I’m scared, because I’ve found myself wondering, if only for a moment, whether some wacko will decide to shoot up the next movie I decide to go see. I yelled because I’m disgusted by all the supposedly reasonable gun owners who shrug off any responsibility, saying different regulations or tighter controls on ammunition purchases won’t work, bad things will still happen, violence just is.

I yelled because I’m frustrated. Because I’m heartbroken. Because if I don’t yell I’ll just curl up into a ball and weep, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop.

I yelled at Steve because—he was there. Continue reading

Blogger Recognition Award

During this season of celebrating gratitude, I’d like to thank Carrie of sexandtheshires for awarding me with a Blogger Recognition Award!

The terms of the award ask me to reflect on why I started my blog, offer some blogging tips, and nominate some other bloggers whose work I find inspiring. So, here goes!

I started Forty-Something First-Time Bride for several reasons. When I got engaged in my mid-forties and began navigating my new identity as a bride, I was excited but also overwhelmed and occasionally flabbergasted at the weird world of 21st-century weddings. I’d been working on a creative nonfiction manuscript of my mid-life dating years, and mid-life marriage seemed equally rich with material. I thought of the blog as the sequel to the manuscript (or more accurately, the manuscript is now the backstory to the blog). As a writer, committing to making regular posts on a blog gave me a sense of accountability and deadlines. As a bride, blogging allowed me to document and share my engagement and wedding with far away friends and family as well as other women in love. I’ve also enjoyed the community aspect of blogging. Continue reading

Rules to Riches: Forging New Holiday Traditions

Thanksgiving greetings, readers and friends! A few days late, but gratitude is always timely. I hope you’ll forgive my delayed good wishes and post. In addition to hosting a family holiday gathering for the first time in our new home, I also celebrated a birthday this past week. I decided to focus on family, food, and fun with friends, and save my reflections for today.

tablesettingCelebrating our first Thanksgiving as a married couple was exciting and exhausting. Hubby Steve’s two grown sons came in, and we made valiant efforts to ready the house for their company, unpacking and arranging the last of the kitchenware (we didn’t quite make it) and situating the remaining cardboard boxes, if not out of sight, at least out of footpath. It was tough for me to host with so much still in disarray, because growing up, a house about to welcome holiday guests (even close relatives) was always scrubbed, straightened, and festively arrayed. It felt like I was breaking an unwritten rule to have stacks everywhere and so much still out of place. Continue reading

Portrait of a Mixed Marriage

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Photo by johnlund.com

Politically, my husband Steve and I have a mixed marriage: he has traditionally identified as right, conservative, Republican; I as left, liberal, Democrat. In a nigh-unto-election year, should either of us be persuaded by the political media machine that urges us to adopt these broad labels as essential truths, we would likely spend the first year of our marriage in warring camps, chary adversaries if not flat-out enemies.

Thankfully, that’s not necessary, because—contrary to what politicians and the media (not to mention your Facebook friends) would have you believe—the nexus of identity and political ideals is never quite that simple. Steve, for example, does not fit neatly into any ideological box. Fiscally, he’s conservative, but on social issues he stands somewhere between libertarian and liberal. He’s voted for Republicans, yes, but also Democrats and third-party candidates. He holds some distinctly right-wing views (he believes there is a liberal bias to most mainstream media) and some distinctly leftist ones (he supports gay marriage as a civil right). The best word to describe his overall stance is probably “moderate,” but it’s more accurate to say he defies categorization.

I, on the other hand, might actually be that simple. Every political-orientation quiz I’ve ever taken places me squarely in the liberal zone. According to The Political Compass, I’m left of the Dalai Lama. Continue reading