Dining memories to fuel a 25-year marriage

AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a sliver from the top tier of their wedding cake, which her mother-in-law tucked away in her freezer for the occasion. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a sliver from the top tier of their wedding cake, which her mother-in-law tucked away in her freezer for the occasion. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM

Memorial Day marked the start of the high wedding season, but the pandemic has upended plans for a lot of folks who had anticipated tying the knot right about now. I know at least one couple that has decided to postpone their June wedding. They’re taking it in stride, but disappointment lingers.

Memorial Day weekend also was when my husband and I marked our 25th wedding anniversary. We had talked about gathering friends together at a karaoke bar, until COVID-19 canceled plans of him singing the crowd-rousing “Sweet Caroline,” and me belting out “The Tide Is High,” like I did the day we said, “I do.”

It’s fine. We’ve never been ones to make a fuss over a milestone, anyway. Heck, we can’t even remember the exact day we got hitched. We know it was Memorial Day weekend. I think it was May 27. The date is etched on our rings, but neither of us can slip the gold past the first joint of our fingers now.

Memorial Day marked the start of the high wedding season. The pandemic has upended plans for a lot of couples who had anticipated tying the knot this spring and summer, or those who are celebrating anniversaries. CONTRIBUTED BY LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Memorial Day marked the start of the high wedding season. The pandemic has upended plans for a lot of couples who had anticipated tying the knot this spring and summer, or those who are celebrating anniversaries. CONTRIBUTED BY LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM

One reason we can’t remember the date is because things got blurry quickly in our marriage. Within six weeks, I was pregnant, so we celebrated the birth of Alvaro before we celebrated one year as husband and wife. For the latter, we ate a sliver from the top tier of our wedding cake, which my mother-in-law tucked away in her freezer for the occasion. She’s a stickler for traditions like that. I’m the ingrate who remembers that the cake tasted stale from freezer burn.

We didn’t whoop it up when we hit the five-year mark, either. By that point, we had two little ones vying for our attention. Then 10, 15, 20 years flew by. I think it was around the two-decade mark that a friend expressed surprise that Joe and I weren’t doing something extravagant. I told her that every day with him is an anniversary. Sounds sappy, but it’s true.

Even though AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras and her husband have been married 25 years, they have trouble remembering the exact date of their wedding. “That’s because things got blurry quickly in our marriage,” she writes. “Within six weeks, I was pregnant, so we celebrated the birth of Alvaro before we celebrated one year as husband and wife.” LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Even though AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras and her husband have been married 25 years, they have trouble remembering the exact date of their wedding. “That’s because things got blurry quickly in our marriage,” she writes. “Within six weeks, I was pregnant, so we celebrated the birth of Alvaro before we celebrated one year as husband and wife.” LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM

Over time, we’ve learned that the little things are what we value. Food has played a part in those insignificant moments that collectively become worth far more than silver, the appropriate gift for this year — were we a paper, wood and crystal kind of couple. Joe never missed dinner when the kids were growing up. He could’ve stayed at the office later, and perhaps that might have meant promotions, but he made family a priority. Even when he and the boys didn’t really like the meal, before getting up from the table, he’d lead them in the rote one-liner to keep Momma happy: “Thank you for a wonderful dinner.”

Every day is a special day when your spouse climbs out of bed to make coffee for the both of you.

Moments are special when you mutually agree about what qualifies as precious and worth savoring, like ripe figs from our backyard (“You eat it.” “No, you eat it.” “OK, let’s split it.”) or fancy real maple syrup that absolutely cannot be mistreated, like you can a plastic bottle of Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth’s.

Joe knows I appreciate farmstead cheese far more than he does, which is why he let me nibble through the cheese course in the frou-frou takeout meal we ordered last week from Bacchanalia for an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about that fine-dining restaurant. He even set the table with china that evening.

Memorial Day weekend was when AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras and her husband marked their 25th wedding anniversary. “We can’t even remember the exact day we got hitched,” she writes. “I think it was May 27. The date is etched on our rings, but neither of us can slip the gold past the first joint of our fingers now.” LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Memorial Day weekend was when AJC dining editor Ligaya Figueras and her husband marked their 25th wedding anniversary. “We can’t even remember the exact day we got hitched,” she writes. “I think it was May 27. The date is etched on our rings, but neither of us can slip the gold past the first joint of our fingers now.” LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM

In the past few months, he’s taken on more kitchen duties, because my job has kept me at the keyboard when dinner hour strikes. My favorite is when he puts together a pot of his Mexican chicken soup. Inspired by the bowl he used to order weekly from a restaurant called El Maguey, the dish has become his calling card. He even whipped up a batch for a close friend whose husband recently passed away unexpectedly. They were married nearly 50 years.

We’re only halfway there.

To mark the occasion, Joe and I settled on an acceptable socially distanced excursion: Rollerblading the golf cart trails in Peachtree City — the least congested, smoothest surface we could think of. Of course, I packed a picnic. Planning the provisions always has been my department when we go on daylong adventures. I also tossed in a cold beer; that always puts a smile on his face. And, even when the sandwiches get soggy and smushed, he says, “Thank you for a wonderful lunch.”

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