When Jason and I got engaged in December of ’06, my sister sent me a lovely gift–a countdown jar. I’d never seen one before, but the concept was brilliant…one item in the jar for each day between then and our wedding. There were candies and quotes and stickers and the like, and the emptier the jar got, the closer we were to the big event. I looked forward to the jar every day, because it showed tangible progress (And, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t like a sticker or a piece of candy before bed?). I emptied that jar excitedly as we prepared for our wedding. I also promised myself that when Bridget got married someday, I’d make her a jar as well.
Most normal people don’t attempt to plan a wedding in three months like we did, so there’s usually more than 70 or 80 days between a full countdown jar and an empty one. Bridget and her fiancé, Teddy, got engaged over Labor Day weekend, and began planning their wedding for June. When I gave Bridget her jar at Christmas, with instructions to begin it at the start of the new year, there were 176 items in the jar. She is counting down to June 25th, much like I am counting down to April 30th…or May 1st…or whatever the doctor’s office has declared my due date to be now. I filled the jar with random things and not-so-random things–stickers, saltwater taffy, little cardboard clocks meant for scrapbooking. A paper wedding dress with shoes and veil and flowers to match, the letter “A” for her new last name, root beer barrels and quotes and scripture folded into little squares. There are a few other things in the jar I won’t mention, because she’ll read this, and they’re a “surprise” for somewhere along the line. At any rate, the whole thing is meant to be fun and hopeful and celebratory as it goes along.
After a much-too-long hiatus of a few weeks, Bridget and I finally got the chance to catch up tonight over the phone. We talked about the usual things, shared a few anecdotes from our days, and discussed baby and wedding and logistics for both. And then we compared notes about counting down.
Counting down, we’ve agreed, can be hard to do. Especially when everyone around you is saying it will “be here before you know it!” While it’s true that (insert important event, ie. the birth of my first baby, her wedding day, etc.) will probably be here sooner than we think, 68 days and 123 days (respectively) feel like a long time in the process. Bridget made me laugh tonight when she shared a little bit about what her countdown jar means for her. As she talked, this blog post evolved without effort; she was both honest and witty, and now I can’t help but relate her reflection. “Sometimes I just think to myself,’ she said, ‘Ok…just take out something small…you’ll get married eventually.” If you could hear it in her voice, it would be even funnier–my 24 year old sister sharing her adult response to a very child-waiting-for-Christmas-morning kind of feeling in her heart. And I totally get it. “Ok…just a little blog tonight, Molly. That’s all. 100 is right around the corner.”
On a good day–or one that looks like it might be a good day, Bridget takes out a cardboard clock or a piece of saltwater taffy (so it doesn’t get hard in the jar :). On a day that promises to be long or tedious, she snags a folded up quote, or reaches in without looking for a surprise item that might bring a little extra joy. On the nights when she gets home from a long day of teaching and realizes she didn’t take anything out yet that day–bonus! I’m sure we can all relate to this kind of thinking when it comes to something anticipatory in our lives.
So tonight, and at the risk of this post getting any longer than it’s already become, I just want to recognize Bridget and our great conversation and her 123 remaining days. I love her take on things like countdown jars, and when we have a chat like we did this evening, I’m left simply thinking, “And that’s why we’re sisters!” Three hours after I picked up the phone, she summed up all of the waiting like this: “I take something out of the jar in the morning, I chart in the evening, and I take some vitamins in between…I just try to keep a healthy balance,” she quips with a smile in her voice. “That’s all I’m saying.”
I’m a big fan of Bridget’s, and I’m a big fan of counting down to whatever great thing lies in the distance–for either one of us.
it’ll be here before we know it. indeed.