Forty years, in an age where spouses are treated like easily replaced appliances, is something for which we are justifiably proud.

A few months ago, looking ahead to our 40th wedding anniversary, my husband and I thought we'd celebrate with a cruise to somewhere. He thought the Caribbean. I thought Mexico with a side trip to the Mayan ruins. A cruise to Easter Island, after a plane trip to its starting point in Greece, intrigued us both, until we saw the price.


Forty years, in an age where spouses are treated like easily replaced appliances, is something for which we are justifiably proud. Not all of those 40 years were easy. Truth be told, a good many of them were difficult. There were times... well, there were times.


Marriage is probably the second most difficult endeavor in this world. The most difficult is raising children. Put the two together (the way they should be), mix in stressful jobs and other family dynamics, and the emotions created are a witches' brew in a cauldron that boils, bubbles and sometimes overflows.


It can be messy.


But here we are, 40 years, two children, and six grandchildren later, still loving each other and leaning on one another, something that's particularly important as our bodies age. Growing old isn't easy either, but having someone by your side to prop you up eases that nuisance.


As for the cruise, we settled on Bermuda because we thought we wouldn't need passports. Why spend an additional $200 for something we'll probably never use again? By nature and financial necessity, we are homebodies. We've never spent more than $600 on a vacation, once for a few-minutes-from-the-beach cottage at the Cape, and a few times for a lake-front cottage in Maine.


The thought of spending $3,000 or more on one vacation goes against the grain, given the other things we could do with the money. The kitchen needs remodeling, as does the upstairs bathroom. The carpets need replacing. The aging furnace is surely on its last legs.


And as our anniversary is smack dab in the middle of hurricane season, we decided to postpone the trip to February or March. After 40 years, what's a few more months?


The delay gives us plenty of time to get the passports that it turns out we'll need, even for that short jaunt to an American outpost. It also gives us time to change our minds.


Do we really want to spend all that money on a vacation, even a vacation that celebrates such a special event? I'm torn. Should we, or shouldn't we?


In the meantime, we celebrated our anniversary with cucumbers.


Our garden this year is overrun with them. We can't pick them fast enough. So we decided, on our anniversary weekend, to make pickles.


My husband found a few recipes online that he liked - bread and butter and garlic dill top the list. He also found a salsa recipe he'd like to try once the hundreds of tomatoes we've got growing ripen, which I expect will happen all at the same time in a couple of weeks.


While he did that, I printed out information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on safe canning and freezing. The word botulism is used more than a few times in that thick sheaf of information. That scared me, so I bought a pressure canner, which is really just an oversized pressure cooker.


He sliced the cucumbers and onions. I brewed the vinegar and spices. We both filled jars with the concoction, and he burned the side of one hand putting them into the cooker's boiling water. We need a jar lifting contraption to make that part of the process safer.


One of our daughters called in the middle of our canning adventure.


"I can't believe you're making pickles to celebrate your anniversary. If that's what I've got to look forward to after 40 years of marriage, I'm getting divorced now," she said.


When you think about it, though, making pickles is like a marriage. It's a lot of work, but in the end it's worth the effort.


P.S. We also went out to dinner (Longhorn's) and a movie ("Ratatouille"). In my book, it was an almost perfect weekend. What would have made it perfect? Someone else to clean the mess we made in the kitchen.


Deb Gauthier of The MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.) can be reached by e-mail at dgauthie@cnc.com.