When my husband and I were married, almost seven years ago now, we decided that we would try to celebrate our anniversaries with gifts based on the traditional anniversary list. It was a fun and creative way to choose memorable gifts.
I think the first (paper) anniversary was particularly memorable. I started a scrapbook of our life together, involving our courtship and first year of marriage.
We were married a year after our first date, and I had kept little mementoes of times together along the way.
The scrapbook turned out to be a bigger undertaking than I had expected though, and I gave it to Gary quite incomplete.
Gary gave me a framed sketch that he had drawn of me sleeping one morning and a book of songs that he had written, some from long before we had met and some more recent.
One song in particular was based on a poem that he had written for me when we were dating and had put to music.
Another that sticks out was our “leather anniversary”. I had recently had a wallet pick pocketed in London and Gary bought me a new one (which I’m still using).
We were on a strict budget that year, and I was thrilled when I found a nice brown leather jacket at a discount outlet for £20.
It was really nice leather and just his size! I later found out that it had been discounted because it had been wrongly sized.
It wasn’t obvious by looking at it, but when he tried it on, the shoulders were huge. It is still in the closet because he can’t bear to part with it but the alterations needed were way over the budget!
Fruit and flowers
When we reached our fourth anniversary (fruit and flowers) I was three months pregnant with our first child.
Gary gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers with ornamental apples in it and I took a more corny approach: one of my gifts to him was a play on “fruit of your loins”, a book of baby names and meanings.
I used the play-on-words approach again for the last one, iron. Gary had started a fitness regime, and needed some exercise gear, so I thought some clothes for “pumping iron” would fit the bill.
The materials for traditional anniversary gifts increase in value year after year.
This, I understand, is meant to symbolise the investment of these years together.
It is probably also assumed that a couple who have been together for many years are more well-off than at the beginning of their married life.
I hope this is the case, or we’ll have to use a lot of artistic licence once we cross over into the gemstone anniversaries!
For instance, my dear husband has threatened that he may have to write a song for our sapphire anniversary, “My heart’s sapphire for you”. He has 38 years to come up with something better...
Wool or copper
This year’s elements are wool or copper. I wish I could say that I have a plan, but I’m stumped so far. I will try to come up with something better than singing My Favourite Things at the top of my lungs (for those who are unfamiliar with this classic, there is a line about “bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens”).
Some years the gifts are more elaborate, while others bear a more tenuous connection to the traditional list, and we have built special memories; some sentimental and some just good for a laugh.
I think when we look back on our marriage at our silver, then gold anniversaries, God willing, we’ll be glad not just of the deepest, most meaningful gifts but the corny and haphazard ones as well.