“What did Joel get you for your anniversary?” asked my mom.
“Nothing yet,” I replied. “But it’s a big one, so it should be something good.”
“Any time a married couple doesn’t kill each other for another year, it’s a big one,” she said.
I laughed. My parents were coming up on 56 years together so my mother was practically an expert at avoiding marital murder. They actually get along great now. Whenever they have a fight, five minutes in they forget what they’re fighting about. Ten minutes in they forget who they’re fighting with. Apparently, the secret to a great marriage is short-term memory loss.
“Well, this is my 25th anniversary, so I think I’m supposed to get something silver,” I said.
“That seems kind of cheap for 25 years,” she replied. “Maybe you can get something silver with a diamond in it.”
I appreciated my mother looking out for my best interests. And I kind of had to agree with her; whoever came up with this anniversary gift list was pretty chintzy. I mean, paper for your first anniversary gift? I think if my husband gave me a piece of paper for my anniversary I’d give it back to him with a note written on it that said, “You’re darn lucky I’m still married to you after giving me paper for our anniversary.” The second year is not much better. Traditionally a couple would give each other cotton. This must be for the husband to stuff in his ears while his wife yells at him for giving her cotton for their anniversary.
Things improve somewhat with the third and fourth anniversary gifts, but then on the fifth anniversary you get wood, iron on the sixth, and copper on the seventh. I’m sure all of this made sense back in colonial times when your husband was a blacksmith or he made muskets for George Washington. However, in modern times, I have no need for a Revolutionary War firearm, and would, in fact, be somewhat horrified if my husband gave me a bayonet for our anniversary, even if it was engraved.
To be honest, traditional gifts don’t start to get good until the 15th anniversary, and by then you’re really just happy if your husband picks up his dirty socks and takes out the garbage without being told.
Fortunately, my husband has no idea what the traditional wedding anniversary gifts are, so I thought he might be open to some subtle suggestions. However, in prior years this had not been that successful. One year I ripped out a picture of a bracelet I wanted from a magazine and left it on his desk.
It kind of worked. He got me a subscription to the magazine.
I was at a loss. But then I realized that after 56 years of marriage, my mother would probably be the best person to consult on this matter.
“Do you remember what you got for your 25th anniversary?” I asked my mom.
She thought for a minute.
“Yes,” she replied. “It was very romantic…
“We both got colonoscopies.”
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