The Golden Jubilee!

It was fun to take the celebration of our 50th Wedding Anniversary “on the road” last week. We had a somewhat understated, yet meaningful remembrance back home with just the two of us on the actual date of our anniversary, June 10th. This involved a movie and a meal! But, for months now, we have been planning to take the celebration to another setting in July. We affectionately called this part of our anniversary celebration, “The ABQ Blitz!” One of our twin daughters and her family have lived in an Albuquerque suburb for 16 years now. Their residence became home base for this gathering. Melissa and Reece with their three children, Klay, Karter, and Klaire, and three dogs, Sophie, Oreo, and Mocha, were in their element as hostess and host to us all!

Our other twin and her family of six and one dog, Groot, have been spending part of their summer in New Mexico for years now. We knew that Michelle and Dan along with Chloe, Danny, Charlie and Dawson had already planned to drive their car the sixteen hours out to Rio Rancho. Marc and Leslie flew in from Austin with sons Ben and Camden. Matt with daughter, Eloise, and son, Brady flew in from St. Louis. All that remained on the flight were the “old people,” Uncle Phil, Monique and I coming from Charleston and Sherman. By the time the final count was in, we had twenty-five in attendance including our children, the in-loves, the beloved grands and some close friends who lived in the Albuquerque area.

During the five days out there, we gathered and ate at some of our favorite restaurants. On Monday, it was Dion’s for pizza and salad. We then retreated up the road to Melissa’s to celebrate Matt’s birthday with DQ ice cream cakes! On Tuesday, we started the day at Weck’s for a “monster breakfast” with plates full of choice meats, eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes and of course, lots of green and red chiles! Wednesday at noon, was the focal gathering at El Pinto’s Mexican Restaurant. We started early just chatting around chips, guacamole, and salsa. Then, everyone ordered their favorite southwest plates! We capped off the meal with delicious sopapillas drizzled with honey! Yum! That night, we gathered again at Fuddruckers for dressed-to-order burgers and a great time visiting at high top tables in a Route 66 designed dining area. When we weren’t eating and visiting, we were shopping at Coronado Mall or Old Town and sipping on our favorite Starbucks’ beverages at Barnes and Nobles.

Thursday evening was the climatic event at the DeFrees’ once again! We ate Reece’s quintessential grilled smash burgers smothered in cheese and chiles along with other trimmings and sides including jalapeno poppers, Caprese salad, homemade guac, salsa and chips! Following supper, our four kids had prepared a special slide show of pics along with a video and animated presentation of their crazy memories of growing up in our household. We hooted and laughed at their reflections! I’m still not sure any of that really happened! Our pastor friend, Ted With, then led in a renewal of vows ceremony for the “old couple!” Monique and I felt so loved and affirmed to have our entire family all under one room again! In many ways, this Golden Jubilee Anniversary was more meaningful to us than our wedding ceremony fifty-years ago! We had no idea back in 1972 how it would all turn out! Yet, over this half-century, God has woven a beautiful tapestry of love and blessings that we could never have imaged as we shared those first vows and said, “I do!”

The Psalmist extols the blessings of family, “Children are God’s love-gift; they are heaven’s generous reward… Happy will be the couple who has many of them!” (Psalm 127:3-5, TPT). We thank God every day for allowing us to experience the blessings of this family! Praise God for His goodness!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.

If you like southwest cuisine, check this out: Chiles , Weck's


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