This coming week, January 5, marks the 19th anniversary of my marriage with Russ, and the 20th anniversary of our first face-to-face meeting. That’s right; as hokey as it sounds, we got married exactly one year from the date that we met face-to-face, having “met” 8 months earlier than that in a chat room online (way back in April 2000). It wasn’t that we planned to get married one year after. In fact, it wasn’t until after the napkins and invitations arrived that I looked at Russ, did the math in my head, looked at a calendar from the previous year, and said, “Oh, my gosh! Do you know what January 5th is?!?!” And Russ slowly answered, “The day we’re getting married???” Which was true. But the significance went deeper than either of us had realized when we picked the date. 

So, why had we picked January 5th?

Because yours truly is a cheapskate. Long story short, we were both taking classes and working full-time, and needed to decide which school break we’d use for marriage: Christmas, Spring, or Summer. We were both 30 years old and ready to get this marriage thing going, so we chose Christmas Break, as it came first. Before Christmas or after Christmas? As if either was really going to be easier, in hindsight, we somehow opted for after Christmas. Then we needed to decide between January 5th or 12th. Then it hit me that January 5th was the obvious choice and told Russ that we needed to get married on the 5th! Because… “Do you know what December 6th is?” I asked Russ, who had not grown up in church, like I had. 

“The day after we’re getting married?”

“No! Well, yes, but bigger than that! It’s Epiphany! They have to keep the church decorated through Epiphany! We won’t have to buy any flowers! Advent colors are purple, pink, and dark green!” Our wedding colors, already decided before my newly-found fiscal inspiration, were dark purple and hunter green. It was absolute perfection! And thus, we selected our wedding date, mindless of the fact that the date also celebrated our one-year face-to-face anniversary.

Being in the middle of a pandemic, but still wanting to do something to celebrate, and get away (because, working in a covid unit, Russ really needed to get away), even if only briefly, we headed to Sevierville, to a hotel with gas logs and a jacuzzi tub, armed with several party trays of food, intending to spend as little time away from the hotel room as possible. The first evening, however, traffic was so thick, we decided to venture out to the edge of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, to one of our favorite restaurants, just to see how crowded it was. Fortunately for us, The Wild Bear is one of the better-kept secrets of the Smokies. The parking lot was nearly empty, so we decided to go in and have dinner. If you like German food, you will LOVE The Wild Bear! It adjoins to an inn and boasts the best potato pancakes I have had south of Washington, DC (a place I visited many moons ago, called Café Mozart). It’s on the right as you’re leaving Pigeon Forge for Gatlinburg, just past Dolly’s Stampede, the Comfort and Quality Inns, and Cracker Barrel. And the German Chocolate cake is just about to die for!

I made it my mission to keep the logs re-ignited every 30 minutes, even though the unseasonably warm 66 degrees outside meant having the air cranked all the way to do so. (I paid a lot extra for the fireplace and tub in that room and, call me names if you will for wasting energy, I wanted to take full advantage of both!) 

On Saturday, we watched TV, then decided to drive around for a bit. After some deliberation on what we could do in relative safety, we settled on miniature golf. I don’t know if I’m getting better, Russ is getting worse, or if time is simply taking its toll on both of us, but I only lost by one stroke. Which is a rarity when playing with my husband. He typically leaves me in the dust! It was a pleasurable afternoon, warm temps, crowded, but everyone doing their social-distancing best to stay out of everyone else’s way. We returned to the hotel to munch on party trays and just relax for the rest of the evening. 

And then he gave me my anniversary gift. [As I’m editing this piece almost a week later, Russ’ gift still has not arrived and I feel absolutely ashamed! Thankfully for me, he is an understanding and forgiving man! I ordered for him a bronze compass inscribed with, “You are my greatest adventure and blessing…”]

If you know much about me at all, you know of my affection for all things UK. What you might not know is that, through DNA testing with Ancestry, I have learned that my personal ancestry is about 90% British Isles – England and Northwestern Europe 33%; Scotland 31%; Ireland 15%; and Wales 12%. And I truly believe that I have past lives connected to Scotland, near the Scotland/England border, which I believed long before I ever saw my DNA results. Every time I leave from Scotland into England, be it by train, plane, or bus, I feel great inner turmoil that I cannot describe through words, short of saying that I feel like I am being ripped apart inside. 

I’m sure you’ve probably seen or heard the commercials where you can become a titled landowner in Scotland for a nominal fee. At some point in the past, I apparently told Russ that this was something I wanted. Well, I tell Russ that I want lots of things; most of the time, I don’t think that he’s listening, or I’m kinda talking to hear myself talk. So, imagine my surprise when he handed me a manila envelope that contained a photocopy of a certificate that was on its way in the mail [and has now arrived in my proverbial hot little hands], that proclaims I now own a very small plot of land in “the historical county of Wigtownshire,” on the Western Coast of Scotland and am, “by the virtue of the ownership of land in Scotland, by way of dedication, upon the effect and the receipt of this Proclamation… by Established Titles [the company]… may henceforth and in perpetuity be known by the style and title of LADY and shall hereafter, to all and sundry, be known as LADY CHRISTINA ANDERSON PETERS.” 

I squee’d louder than when Duran Duran come on the radio. I’m a LADY!!! Yes, it’s a purchased title. And it’s a tiny piece of land (one square foot), but it’s big enough to plant a tree on, since part of the purpose of Established Titles is to conserve land in Scotland. And no, I can’t build a house there, or probably even visit my specific little plot, but I DO own land there. And with that ownership comes the title of LADY. And I feel like it’s part of me. And it makes me smile that I have such an amazingly thoughtful, considerate, and romantic husband! 

On our way out of town on Sunday, I stopped by the Zales Outlet long enough to have my earrings cleaned to keep my service contract intact. Then we finally got in to eat at The Local Goat, which I highly recommend. They make everything there themselves, even the ketchup and other condiments. The Crème Brulee was magnificent! Just so you know, because the parking lot is always packed, they do accept reservations. Her ladyship suggests that you go this route – otherwise, it could take you forever to experience the unique ambience and fare it has to offer.

The Wild Bear Potato Pancakes