Wedding anniversaries require specialty gifts

Laurie Sontag

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. I won’t say which one—but I was 5 when we married. Really. Anyway, I’m not the most romantic of people—possibly due to the trauma of being married before I finished kindergarten. So I was thrilled when I got a new toaster for my anniversary. I even picked it out.
Of course, prior to our anniversary I did look up traditional gifts and it turns out there actually is a list of anniversary gifts for every possible wedding anniversary from 1 through 100. Yes. 100. And the 100th gift is surprisingly not supplemental Medicare insurance. Also? Not one toaster on the list. Weird.
Instead, they were gifts like wood, paper, jewelry and cotton. There weren’t any that said “whisk the wife off to Paris and let her eat as many Croque Monsieur sandwiches as she wants and never, ever comment on the fact that she has to wear stretch pants the entire flight home,” which seems like a very romantic anniversary gift to me. Of course, I’m thrilled with a toaster, so what do I know?
On the other hand, I have been married since I was 5, so perhaps I know a bit. I’ve even been married to the same person for all that time. That counts for something, right? I mean, don’t I get points for not killing Harry over all these years? (If not, I should. Really.) In any event, the traditional gifts are kind of … stupid. So of course, I came up with a list of my own.
Years one through five: the “honeymoon” years. In these years, you can pretty much get away with any gift you want—although I suggest the gifts include love notes littered artfully throughout the house which detail the exact method your spouse needs to use for rolling the toothpaste tube before it drives you insane. Or refining the best phrase to use when saying that your spouse is wearing something so unflattering you won’t be seen in public with him/her. Trust me, these gifts will actually get you to years six through 10.
Years six through 10: the “we are covered in barf” years. These are the years when you are trying to start a family, have started a family or have adopted pets. In any event, you will be living in a home that is covered in barf. An appropriate gift is a steam cleaner. I speak from experience. I’ve lived through those years. And they weren’t easy. But they were smelly.
Years 11 through 15: the “we should invest in art” years. These years are lovely. Most of the barfing is over and potty training is now a fond memory rather than a horrifying ordeal you thought would never end. Sadly, however, the artwork for these celebrations usually comes from your 5-year-old who has covered your freshly painted walls with a monster family drawn in Sharpie pen.
Years 16 through 20: the “we’re too busy to celebrate” years. These are the years where your anniversary comes on the exact same day as Child No. 1’s playoffs, Child No. 2’s dance recital and the stunning realization that maybe you should have started saving for college before now because it has become abundantly clear at both the dance recital and playoff game that athletic scholarships will not be happening.
Years 21 through 30: the “we are poor but the kids will be educated” years. These are the years when you realize tuition has skyrocketed since you went to college. At this point, you elect to go to In-and-Out and even brave the Gilroy Premium Outlet crowds to sit down inside and celebrate. Heck, who needs champagne and silver when you have animal fries? Party on, you crazy kids.
Years 31 through 40: the “why won’t these kids get homes of their own” years. Ah, yes, the bounce back years. Fortunately, at this point you are hopefully charging the kids rent, so you can afford a nice dinner. And maybe the traditional jewelry gifts.
Years 40 through 100: the “holy cow, how did we get so old” years. If you make it this far—and many of us may not—please celebrate. Take a trip. Get some nice jewelry. Have a glass of wine.
As for our anniversary? Well, we are smack dab in the middle of the education years. And that explains our lunch at the Gilroy Costco food court and our dinner at Odeum in Morgan Hill. Best of both worlds.

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