DH = Dear Husband
DD1 = Dear First Daughter
DD2 = Dear Second Daughter
DD3 = Dear Third Daughter
Roses. Chocolates. Wine. Gifts. Restaurants. Week-ends away. Exotic destinations. Diamonds. Romance can be pricey. Two years ago, when DH marked the first year of his business franchise, we felt encouraged by his new career after years of uncertainty, and we invested in some expensive romance. When our anniversary came around, we indulged in an overnight get-away at the resort where we’d spent our honeymoon. There were chocolate dipped strawberries waiting for us in our room. We each had an hour-long massage, and then we got all dressed up for dinner. Before heading down to the dining area, we opened the champagne we’d had cooling on ice and toasted our years together. A delicious dinner; a swim; a huge breakfast the next morning; a set of pretty bad but very fun tennis; a walk through the pathways surrounding the resort . . . Very romantic. We did the same after DH’s second successful year in business. But not this year.
Can romance be bought?
Is romance possible when you’re getting out of debt? Romance is sort of like fun. It can be set up, but it can’t be bought. I remember one of my sisters once telling me of a woman who had gone to Toronto for a week-end get-away with her boyfriend. When my sister asked her how it had gone, she’d said, “If I told you about the restaurants and the places we visited, you’d think we had a wonderful time. But it was awful.” They broke up soon afterwards. On the other hand, it is possible to experience moments of incredible romance in very unlikely situations. Early in my teaching career, I remember supervising a particular set of year-end exams in the school gymnasium. A boy who was already seated looked up at a girl who had just arrived and exchanged a silent greeting with her. She soon passed by, but the smile remained on his flushed face as he awkwardly looked down at the cover page of his exam, forehead leaning on both hands, unable to do anything else with the glow that had overtaken him. I couldn’t help but smile myself. Young love in the exam hall; it was so sweet.
So it wasn’t just the resort and the chocolate covered strawberries that made it happen for us on those two anniversary get-aways. On their own, the trappings of romance are completely devoid of romance itself. This year, on our journey out of debt, our unspoken hope was to make the romance happen without quite so many trappings. Leading up to last week-end, I asked DD2 and DD3 if they could sleep over at friends’ houses Saturday night. “Why?” asked DD2. “It’s our anniversary,” I answered. After brief pause, DD2 yelled out a very loud and suggestive “Whooooo-hoo!” and started texting arrangements. I understand that it’s good for children to witness evidence of affection between their parents – though they certainly don’t want to see too much of it. DD3, who always challenges me when she wants to watch a movie that I have said is inappropriate, recently saw us dancing to Adel’s One and Only in the kitchen. She said that she was scarred for life and that she’d never be able to listen to Adel again. So it was a fortunate thing that both DD2 and DD3 were able to leave Saturday night, and that they were spared the sight of us dancing to the same song in the family room.
Besides the impromptu dancing – which, by the way, was not a part of our experience at the resort – we ate a meal that we’d prepared together, and that was just as delicious as any restaurant fare. We ate in style – I in my dress and DH in his suit. We toasted with champagne, and DH surprised me with a gift: season two of Downton Abbey. The best television series ever. DD2, who did not go to her friend’s house until quite late, washed the dishes for us as we watched the first episode. (Big points for DD2!) Sunday morning we slept in, skipped church, and went out for a pretty classy breakfast.
It didn’t hurt that things have been going well for us lately. DD1 has reason to be cautiously optimistic about her respiratory issue. (See post “A Temptation Back Into Debt”) DH has completely recovered from his gallbladder surgery in the summer. Our athletic DD2, who suffered a freak injury just before she was to start university and had to be withdrawn from her first semester, has come a long way in her recovery. For a healthy family, we’ve had a bizarre string of medical issues lately – I broke my toe into the bargain, and hobbled around with an air cast through September – so a general return to health has been a real bonus. DH had a great September in his business – a fine start to his fourth year; DD1, who is studying for her master’s degree out west, found a promising part-time job writing for web sites; DD2 is handling the delay to her university start well, and will work and save money until she starts her courses in January. As we sat across that breakfast table from each other, DH and I were basking in a certain satisfied gratitude for hardships weathered together and overcome.
Later on in the week, we calculated the cost of our anniversary celebration and compared it to last year’s. The resort get-away came in at about $850; this year’s stay-at-home anniversary came in at about $120. I’m sure that once we’re out of debt, we’ll choose to go back to our honeymoon resort for that first week-end in October, but the question remains: Is romance possible when you’re getting out of debt? I’m here to tell you it is.