Hallmark is Fiction

My parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary last month.

Usually each December, when my father raises his glass to toast the number of years they’ve shared, I make a joke of it.

“More or less,” I say.

And my mom and dad understand.

You see, my parents split up when I was a freshman in high school. My dad moved out and my parents lived separate lives. They dated other people, I saw my dad on weekends. Typical divorced family stuff (although they never legally divorced). And then, three years later, they got back together. My dad moved back in, they started anew. And they’ve been together ever since.

Last month, when I went to pick out a fiftieth anniversary card for them, I was surprised how difficult it was to find one that fit. According to Hallmark, Golden anniversaries are for those with unwavering enchantment, flawless histories, and hearts that pitter patter as breathlessly as they did when they were newlyweds.  

Fifty years is a long time. Individuals grow and change. Couples move together, then apart, then together again. Relationships are complicated. 

My parents have been married exactly 50 years. Not more. Not less. I understand that now.

When you tell your life story, don’t buy into the Hallmark approach.

Share the curves, the bumps, the breaks.

Make it real.

Otherwise, you’re writing fiction.