We're Not Really "Milestone People"

By Maggie Reimherr

Picture this: it’s 10:45 pm on our first anniversary. Derek’s reading a book on his Kindle. I’m about to go to sleep. I sit up in bed with a start.

“OUR CAKE! WE DIDN’T EAT OUR CAKE. WE’RE EATING IT NOW.”

At my insistence, Derek reluctantly gets out of bed and follows me to the kitchen. I pull the top tier of our cake out of the freezer. It’s frozen solid. Derek asks, “Are we supposed to eat it frozen?”

No, sir, we are not.

“Huh. I didn’t think of that. Oh well,” I say, leaving the cake on the counter to defrost. “We’ll try again tomorrow.”

We forgot to do the one thing you’re supposed to do on your first anniversary.

On our way back to bed I remark, “We’re not really milestone people, are we?”

Derek replies, “Nope. We are not.”

I ponder this thought before rolling over and saying, “It’s better to live a happy life all the time than place too much weight on the ‘milestones.’”

I think that’s a really important life lesson. I don’t know about you, but I certainly know some people who would react to forgetting to eat cake on their anniversary like their life/marriage was ruined. Do our daily lives have so little value that we only live for the moments that are supposed to be “big”? I hope not.

It’s not that Derek and I aren’t celebration people. In fact, I think it’s that we celebrate all the time.

Good day at work? Good for you - crack open a beer! Thursday? Congrats, we almost made it through the week - let’s have friends over for board games to celebrate. Minor achievement? Treat yo’self. Avoiding pregnancy month after month? Have a glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for properly administering your prescribed medication.

We tend to celebrate the small things, so when the big things come around, they don’t feel much different than our every day. I think that’s a good way to live.

Of course, we celebrate bigger things too - like birthdays and holidays and job interviews and first days of work and signing leases. But we don't put pressure on those days - which ultimately leads to disappointment anyway - because we celebrate every day.

We did celebrate our anniversary, too - with BBQ brunch and sushi dinner (our love for food knows no borders). Full disclosure: we actually wound up canceling the reservations we had at a fancy restaurant because we felt like keeping it casual that night.

But then we forgot one teensy detail.

So no, our marriage isn't ruined because we forgot to eat cake on March 26. When we got around to it on March 27, the whole thing was pretty anticlimactic anyway. We each ate a little sliver of it and then kinda looked at it and asked, “So do we just throw away the rest?”

(Side note: it was quite well preserved and not at all disgusting, so props to the person who wrapped it in 3 layers of cling wrap, 1 layer of tin foil, and a gallon size bag.)

I felt bad about the idea of throwing it away so it lived in a ziploc bag in our refrigerator until one of us decided “enough is enough” and threw it away. But can you imagine what would have happened if we'd put too much pressure on the moment of eating a few bites of year-old cake? I'd be despondent, asking, “Why didn't that feel more special?” Or I'd have eaten the whole tier of cake on principle.

Life's special enough. Celebrate the small stuff. The big stuff never disappoints when you live out every day in celebration.

Foreshadowing of me saying, "Whatever! It's just cake!"

Foreshadowing of me saying, "Whatever! It's just cake!"