When folks hear that my husband and I married on New Year’s Eve, they usually emit a low hum, which translates roughly, “oh, how romantic!” I hate to burst their bubble, but it was more of a practical decision than a romantic one.
My husband was in graduate school at the time, so our choice was to either marry over his holiday break or wait another semester. No, thank you, to the second option. When I informed my mother that we were planning a December wedding, she threatened death if I picked the weekend preceding Christmas. So, that left the weekend after.
That Saturday happened to be January 1, which was fine with me, but apparently these events called “Bowl Games” are important to everyone of the male gender in the South (including my husband). I learned that January 1 was not an option for the wedding, and so we landed on Friday, December 31. So, no, it wasn’t a romantic gesture.
On New Year’s Eve 1993, it seemed that everyone from my small town came out to celebrate our wedding. The December night was chilly, but the church was warm with the glow of candlelight and family and friends sitting shoulder to shoulder on well-worn pews. When the organist began to play “Ode to Joy,” we spilled from the stained-glass sanctuary in the mood to celebrate. The year drew to a close in a spirit of love, joy and community.
For me, New Year’s Eve had always been a fairly lonely holiday. Perhaps Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve had convinced my young mind that every single person in the world was surrounded by friends and celebrating the countdown with glee, but I was certain that I was the only one not cheering and toasting and being kissed at midnight.
So, a New Year’s Eve wedding was actually the redemption of a night that felt hard and lonely and sad. Of course the weightiness of this didn’t dawn on me when we made the decision for purely practical reasons; however, in the 22 years since, I’ve realized what a gift this particular wedding date really is.
My anniversary reminds me that I am not forgotten, overlooked, or alone. Instead, I am chosen and dearly loved, and after 22 years, I am more certain of this than ever. Each year New Year’s Eve reminds me that I am not only invited to the party, but I am the belle of the ball.