Friday, November 11, 2011


1.  Edited Sat. AM (See below)
We've finally reached another holiday weekend.  This one, however, is in the "very special" category.

First, Friday is Veteran's Day, the main reason for this weekend's celebrations.  It is a day we honor all the brave men and women who have kept the greatness in our country both today and since the country was founded.  We all should go out of our way the give a big "Thank you for your service" to any and all veterans we meet today.  If your city or town has a parade or other type of celebration to honor our heroes, then I'd hope you can get to see it or participate in it to show your support.

The Old Gator offers his big "Thank You" on this, your day of celebration.

Second, Nov. 11th is the day the Gator Clan begins its construction of our Christmas Village, our way of celebrating the upcoming season.  Our Village is a combination of collectible pieces from Department 56's Victorian and Dickens Collections.  It takes us about two weeks to get the Village ready to be lit and our target date this year is Thanksgiving Day, or at the latest the weekend following.

Friday will be spent putting our homemade tables together and putting them in their places in our living room.  We may even begin to place down the hard foam pieces which form the snow covered base for the settings. Saturday and Sunday will see the beginning of the placing of structures which make our Village.

It is a time consuming, slow process, but the Clan truly enjoys both the construction and the enjoyment the Village brings throughout our Christmas season.

I'll try to edit this weekend post to add some pictures of the construction progress.  Check back perhaps Sunday.

1.  The 50th Celebration is over.  Now we're back to the Village.  The base for one wall is complete, along with the preliminary placing of many pieces.  But here is a picture of one of this year's corner pieces:
Of course there's still a lot to be done, but we put it up to see how we'd like it.  Our first impression was that we really do.  This building has been in the news lately.

But the third and the most important event, the one which makes it "very special," this weekend happens Friday.  It was 50 years ago that this branch of the Gator Clan was started.

In 1960, a cousin with whom I had grown up scheduled her wedding.  I had left Maine five years earlier to join my parents in Florida.  My cousin asked if I could at least return long enough to be in the church on her wedding day.

I was preparing to graduate from U of F, but timing was right and I was able to make a weekend trip. It would be a short stay as I arrived late the night before the wedding and was leaving the day after.  I did not get to meet her wedding party members.

Sitting in the church as the bride and her attendants started down the aisle, I saw for the first time what to me was the most beautiful sight in the world.  It was Cousin's Maid of Honor.  I never saw another thing in that church.  I suspect she never knew I was there.

A couple of weeks later I was granted my degree and had interviewed for a job on a newspaper in a mid-Florida city.  (Orlando, FF, wasn't quite as big back then and the newspaper wasn't quite as important as it is today.)  I was also slated for a visit to a newspaper in Georgia.  But those newspapers would no longer be in my future.  My destiny was in Maine and I came home.

I casually asked Cousin who her M of H was.  She laughed, told me, and said she was not committed to anyone.  I could feel the anxiety building. I still can remember every minute of our first date and my earlier "first impression" only grew.  That was in the summer of 1960.  A little more than a year later, we began the oddysey that continues today.

That November day was like the beautiful weather we've had earlier this week.  It was the 11th, Veterans' Day 50 years ago.  And I can't think of a single moment, even during some tough times, when I was sorry we got married. 

SJJ, Thank you for still being with me as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary.  Thank you for being at my side when our personal economy was tough, and especially when my health took a rotten turn ten years ago.  And I'm glad I was here for you during your ordeal a couple years ago.  I think there's a name of something that has held us together.  For me, it's "love."  I love you.

As we celebrate our 50 years together, I can't help but wonder what happened to the pool money.  My Dad, yes MY dad, had started a money pool on just how long our marriage would last.  I never did know how much money was in that pool nor who was the keeper.  I do know that my dad has long since left us as has many of the other people, including my brother and that cousin, at the wedding.  Wherever it is, if it even still "is," there is no winner of that pool.  Our marriage continues.

What say you, Mrs. Gator?  Shall we try for another fifty?

(Added at 7:50 Fri AM:  GW said, "Absolutely!  Let's give it a try!")


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