Yiasou fee-leh! (Hello my friend!) Thank you for returning for your dose of Kiki KEFI. This month we’ll discuss family, commitment, and perseverance, plus some tips we learned this holiday season.
It is my sincerest hope that you enjoyed an agape filled holiday season as did I. This festive period was extra special for my family, as it included the recognition of two dynamic and determined persons who express love through perseverance.
KEFI and PERSEVERANCE – celebrating 55 years of marriage
What does it mean to make it all the way to 55 years of marriage? Or, better yet, how does one arrive at the celebration of such a milestone that spans over five decades? This past week, my family and I — all nineteen of us originating from various locations and life situations — united in Mexico to commemorate my Greek parents’ achievement, honoring the sacrament of marriage for over a half a century. To say that reaching such a landmark is a monumental feat is not exaggerated, but certainly the planning and preparation of the celebration event did carry with it a robust effort. I’ll spare you all those details, but for the sake of laughter I’d like to share our Big Fat Greek Party with you, which at times was a comedy of errors, and sort of reflection of the adhesiveness of how some marriages/families stick together.
KEFI TIP: Better to be good to each other than right
During our destination family gathering, getting together to spend time with each other every day was the impetus for the vacation, and we did that. In Cancun, mornings and afternoons were were fun and carefree, swimming and tanning in the ocean. In the vast body of water called the Atlantic, we uttered minimal words, we were just active together, walking and floating and riding the waves. Evenings were a bit different as we settled in one spot where the environment promoted conversation or speaking, and furthermore, deciding on where to dine was easy, but the discussion at the meal was not as simple. Somehow, someone would bring up a topic that turned controversial and all bets were off. In these heated moments, fortunately there weren’t any punches thrown, but some stormed out, only to return and apologize. Whew, thank God!
We realized that being harmonious with each other was more important than being right, an important way to be in a marriage/family.
KEFI TIP: Be respectful and listen to each other
Another goal of our milestone trip was to convene on the sand, in front of nature’s breathtaking backdrop in order to have a professional photographer take several pictures of Yia Yia and Papou with their four children and nine grandchildren. Our beachside, keepsake photo session was a tall order of komodia (comedy) as we each attempted to override the photographer’s directive of picture placement. The sun beating down on us, the wind blowing our hair to oblivion, teens pulling out their iPhones, toddlers sleeping and Papou wrestling with his εγγονός (grandson) in between poses had me wondering, “Could Claudia ever get the subjects to focus so she could capture a snapshot of my mother and father’s legacy? We all know Greeks are a tough crowd, especially the Kalliris οικογένεια (family). Certainly, we did give this persistent, spicy and patient photographer a run for her money, but in the end, yes, she took control and rallied us to believe her expertise. The Kalliris family ultimately yielded to her direction, demonstrating trust and listening abilities.
One more crucial component to keeping a marriage united, which is listening and respecting each other, bringing forth the opportunity to grow and be productive as a member of a home.
KEFI TIP: Don’t forget to laugh
Our choice to stay at an all inclusive hotel was to allow for ease and frequency of connecting each day. However, this meant the older generation needed a bit of occasional assistance being mobile on the property, thus upon arrival at the beachfront hotel we commissioned a bellboy to loan my parents a wheelchair. This transportation aid was to be stationed in their room for the duration of the trip, but instead what developed was a case of the day-to-day missing wheel chair. Each day after use of the chair, we would leave it in the room and somehow it would disappear by morning. A call would be made to the front desk, another wheel chair would be delivered and then that routine would replay all over again. It wasn’t until our last night when we once again requested a wheel chair only to find out that the hotel, solely owned 4 of them and they were all missing.
The concierge believed that we had hijacked the wheel chairs, and for that reason the bellboy would not loan us the remaining emergency wheel chair believing we may take that one too! Additionally, Kiki Vale was responsible because she had signed for the chairs at the beginning of the trip. A massive manhunt and video surveillance ensued leading to the evidence and location of the missing wheel chairs. Unbeknownst to us, the maids thought they were doing us a favor by taking the cumbersome chairs out of our room to create more space. To this day, we are unsure where the cleaning crew was temporarily taking the chairs, but the good news is that a little detective work allowed for their recovery. This entire fiasco prompted our family to use the incident as a conversation piece that in our imagination had Peter Jennings reporting live from London about the case of the missing wheel chair. Our creative nature took us from frustration to comedy; we must have laughed for hours.
Laughter, another key component to diverting or diffusing a situation and prioritizing to keep a marriage/family full of happiness.
55 years is not an easy feat, but definitely doable
I could spend more time sharing more stories about my parents’ “KEFI Wedding Observance”, but the real significance of this article is to highlight how impressed I am with regard to the length of their 55-year marriage. Truthfully, living in harmony, listening, respecting one another, laughing with one another are all viable characteristics of a successful relationship, but so is the action of love, the act of forgiveness, living with faith and gratitude and of course perseverance. Perseverance, or hanging in there till the rainbow pops out of the clouds — because it always does — can change everything.
Researchers from divorce.usu.edu estimate that 40%-50% of all first marriages will end in divorce. There are various non-serious and serious factors of why people divorce, but it’s interesting to note that a significant number of divorced individuals — maybe up to about half — report that they wished they or their ex-spouse had tried harder to work though their differences. In my opinion, if marriage is the most important job we will do, why not give it the best effort in keeping it strong and beautiful?
To my loving parents, thank you for being an excellent example of how to persevere, making the outcome all the more joyful. AXIOS!
Check out Kiki’s all new website!
She was a prevalent force at WMAQ & WBBM radio where she was the first female airborne news/traffic reporter.Kiki’s voiceover work has garnered her Omni awards for Evian water and Coca-Cola commercials.
These days Kiki enjoys energizing audiences on stage during motivational speaking engagements, and through writing. Her highly regarded “Kefi-That Life Force” column, was published previously in The Greek Star. She’s currently working on her first non-fiction book.