Couple shares a virtual Thanksgiving with family on their 60th anniversary

MILFORD — Milford resident Mike Siegman lost his grandmother, aunt and uncle in the pandemic of 1919. As Mike and his wife Julia celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this Thanksgiving, they reflected on the current pandemic and shared advice on staying happily married for so long.

On Thanksgiving, Mike and Julia’s children organized a virtual celebration for the family, where they got to see one another on Zoom. They also shared dishes — Mike and Julia cooked the turkey and delivered it to one of their sons, who shared his side dishes with his parents.

“Thanksgiving day makes us reflect on all we have to be thankful for: good health and wonderful family and friends around the world,” Mike said.

The couple — who are parents of three and grandparents of four — are isolating from the pandemic because of their ages, Mike said.

“I’ve had pneumonia a bunch of times and Julia has serious allergies, so we are being very careful to prevent catching COVID,” said Mike, who is 85. Julia is 82.

Aside from visiting a son’s backyard barbecues a few times over the summer — sitting at a separate table and using hand sanitizer before touching anything — the virtual anniversary party was the first time the family has gathered in months, although they are hopeful that the coming vaccines will allow a resumption of more normal life.

“We know there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Julia said, in regard to the pandemic.

The early years

The Siegmans met when they were fixed up by Mike’s roommate Richard at the University of Michigan. Julia, who was initially enrolled at the University of Kentucky before transferring, said Richard told her “he had a roommate for me,” she said.

The couple hit it off, and dated for two years before getting married. They moved to Milford from Michigan in 1985. Julia became a real estate agent. Mike’s jobs included IBM programming executive, computer graphics company owner, and programming research manager for a software company. Like Julia, he too has sold real estate.

“For awhile, we worked at competitive companies so we couldn’t have any pillow talk,” Mike said.

They both retired in August, due to the pandemic.

Reflections on six decades of marriage

The couple credits being active as one reason for their married success.

“We’ve got good genes and we keep busy,” Mike said. “You have to stay busy to be interesting.”

They said they also hope to resume participating in their favorite sports — skiing and sailing — once it’s safe to do so again. The Siegmans are regulars at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont where they ski every winter.

“We have been a skiing family since the oldest was 9,” Mike said.

In the summers, they have sailed up to Cape Cod and around Nantucket, Mass.

Travel is what they also credit to a happy marriage.

“Even with three small sons, we almost always took trips to new places just as a couple once a year,” Mike said. “If IBM sent me somewhere, I almost always bought a companion seat for Julia. It kept us feeling like a couple.”

Over the course of their married life, Mike and Julia traveled all over the world. They’ve gone to London, Madrid, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Istanbul, Rome, Poland, Berlin, Sweden, Portugal, Ireland, India, Ireland and Chile.

Another rule for staying happy, Mike said, is to be a good roommate.

“Don’t do 50 percent, do 60 percent,” he said. “Try to do more to build the relationship.”

Julia agreed, adding that it also is important to live each day to the fullest and to appreciate the time together.

“You never know what the next day is going to bring,” she said. “You can’t spend your life being angry or grumpy. You have to appreciate each other every day.”