Celebration

… There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you
Come on now

Yesterday would have been Mom and Dad’s 64th wedding anniversary; given Dad would have been 89 and Mom 93, the chances of celebrating the occasion were slim. Mom’s untimely death in 2005 meant they did not make it to number 50 either, a milestone which would most certainly have been marked with a party.

My parents did not let a special day pass without a card, a telephone call, a visit, a cake or a drink. Their own birthdays were treated as merely another year, just don’t dare forget it. April 30th was an all together different matter, especially the milestone years. And when they celebrated, it was with gusto.

The first recorded collection of photographs stem from the silver wedding anniversary in 1983. I remember the planning, the preparation, the people, and the late night. A review of the picture collection reveals a very proud couple, enjoying the day and the company.

One of many toasts. From left to right, Tante Toos, Dad, Mom, Uncle Herman and me.

The measure of it’s importance was reflected in the visitation of relatives. Dad’s two older sisters, Anne and Toos, were in attendance along with Mom’s eldest sibling, Fr. Herman van Rooij, flying in from the Netherlands. The day started with a special Mass at Mary Immaculate, led by Uncle Herman, Gary and Peter as altar servers, Michael delivering the readings, Olga and myself singing and playing in the folk choir. It was a very special event.

Five years later, I remember a spontaneous and somewhat raucous night of drinking and dancing with all the boys and their partners after a celebratory dinner at Kostis Avenue. A very young Nicholas and baby Olena upstairs asleep while the adults played, loudly.

Couples in the Netherlands don’t wait until the Golden anniversary for the next major wedding celebration. The 50th might not happen so they begin with number 40, then number 45 and then the big one. By the time of my parents’ 40th, the clan had grown considerably with a boat load of grandchildren. Mom and Dad hired a catering company to cook and serve within their home, a family friendly event enjoyed by everyone. Even though the partying was subdued, the gathering itself was remarkable.

In 2008, Olga and I celebrated our 25th, the same year which would have marked my parents 50th. Learning from them, we wanted to honour the auspicious occasion with a party of family and friends. Mom had passed away three years earlier. We wished she could have been there; I know Dad missed her dearly. Despite her absence, he made the day feel extra special and enjoyed the company of everyone, especially the grandchildren.

Dad enjoying himself with the grand kids at our 25th anniversary

The gathering of entire families seems increasingly rare. People reside in different cities, live divergent lives, occupied by all encompassing matters. The reasons not to get together are easy to count, the excuses not to make the effort recited effortlessly. And maybe not everyone can attend, or the measures are simpler; nevertheless, whatever the day, the event, the moment, it is important to celebrate. You may not get another opportunity.

May we all find occasions to celebrate and share our blessings with others.

2 thoughts on “Celebration

  1. You are so right about family gatherings not being that easy to arrange anymore. Apart from attending the funerals of each of my parents, I joined up with my siblings and their children and grandchildren when we celebrated what would have been my father’s 100th birthday and two years later what would have been my mother’s. I have met up with my brothers in the Kruger National Park a few times and before the intervention of Covid we came together to celebrate my eldest brother’s 50th wedding anniversary. All of these were good times indeed. My own children are scattered, making it difficult to gather them together so we enjoy seeing them whenever we can and have fallen into celebrating special times either way before or long after the event. These photographs you have are precious.

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    1. We often wonder how other families manage to get all together and and we can’t….only to find out that they have as much trouble. I recall a trip to Netherlands many years ago when my mother’s side of the family had a gathering to welcome our arrival. They thanked us because it was the first time all of them managed to gather in one place in years!

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