Wedding anniversaries have symbols to commemorate each year of matrimony, and serve as a gift-giving guide. Think of anniversary gifts as presents that contribute to your spouse’s continued presence.
These traditional symbols may have made sense for my parents’ generation when they married young, and were too poor to split up. But what are the chances a boomer will reach the 50-year Gold Medal Award, with rising divorce rates in this prosperous demographic? Maybe if you add up your collective marriage years, you’ll live long enough to reach this triumph. But that seems like cheating, akin to using performance-enhancing drugs to win gold at the Olympics.
For this reason (and a few others) I think it’s time the traditional US anniversary symbols marched down the altar of alteration. Here are a few of my makeover ideas.
1st year: Paper.
Makeover: Wood, with affectionate nickname ‘Woody.’ Do we really want to symbolize the first vulnerable year of marriage with the substance divorces are served on? Since this is a time when money is tight and passion is plentiful, the Woody makes a perfect anniversary gift for a newly married couple. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to worry about the size.
7th year: Wool.
Makeover: Gold Bond. This is the year of the seven-year itch, so it seems like even smart wool would be a dumb idea. Something soothing is what you need to smooth out the rough patches that have erupted after seven years of constant chafing. Add the silky voice of a marriage counselor, and your union will survive to celebrate number eight.
15th year: Crystal
Makeover: Dog with a bell. You have now entered the Pavlovian year of marriage, when your conditioned responses make communicating without words as clear as the crystal you don’t need to buy. For example, you sigh repeatedly while staring into the refrigerator, and he reaches for a takeout menu.
20th year: China
Makeover: Diamond. Twenty is the new sixty. You had some wedding china (twice) and it’s broken or divvied up, so invest in something that lasts. Carrots taste great served on Corelle dinnerware, as long as Jared’s carats drip from the hands that prepared them.
25th year: Silver
Makeover: Coral. As in reef. As in Hawaii. And nothing to polish except your toenails enveloped in warm sand, and fingernails that adorn hands clutching a Mai Tai. Oh my!
30th Year: Pearl
Makeover: Plastic. I’m talking about surgery, not Tupperware. When you are shallow, the only ridges you crave apply to Frito-Lay. Who needs pearls when white globs of onion dip encircle your chest? And now that you’ve had your eyelids lifted, you can actually see to get cleaned up, preserving your looks and your marriage.
Last August Patrick and I celebrated our 24th anniversary: Opal
Makeover: Reservations. At this stage of our marriage I only had to sigh once (without even opening the refrigerator door), and he made reservations for a nice dinner out.
As for gold, I think everyone who succeeds in making it through another year of wedded bliss should qualify for this honor, don’t you? What is your favorite anniversary symbol? How do you celebrate a new year of commitment? What’s your position on performance enhancing drugs? Do you think it was fair that I got a salad and Patrick didn’t?