The guidelines

My daughter and her husband celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary last week. She gave him a ball cap. He gave her monogrammed napkins.

Cotton is the theme for second anniversary gifts. Paper marks year one.

Last year, Kristen gave Andrew a leather-bound journal filled with parchment pages. He framed their wedding invitation and wrapped it up for her.

That Kristen and Andrew follow the anniversary gift guidelines makes me smile. But they didn’t get the idea from me.

When Gary and I married, I’m not certain we knew that each wedded year carried a theme.

But, then, we were only 12 when we walked down the aisle. At least that’s what I tell anyone who inquires.

We were aware that 25 years—the Silver Anniversary—is all about, well, silver. We observed that milestone by giving ourselves a big party—for our daughter Jordan’s high school graduation.

Not to worry, the correct theme made an appearance on that special day in the form of the first strands of silver making their debut in our hair.

We were also familiar with the ever-famous 50th or Golden Anniversary, but, when you are 12, 50 married years seems like for-ev-er. Gary and I aren’t there yet, but I may suggest we start sticking to the proper themes when that golden day draws near.

Before and after 25, we made up our own anniversary themes. On year one, we exchanged cards over a candlelit dinner. Nowhere in the rules are candles mentioned.

In lieu of cards, we could have given each other something useful like a roll of toilet paper. If that was a stretch (glad it was not), we could have written love notes to one another on our utility bills.

Whoever made up the anniversary guidelines put thought into the first year. Few newly-wedded couples can afford to give anything more than paper.

In any case, Gary and I met the standard for year one without realizing that paper was key.

In the book of anniversary gifts, year three is Leather and five is Wood. The anniversary expert could not make up his mind on four, six, seven, eight, and nine.

According to theme, four is Fruit or Flowers. Six is Candy or Iron. Seven, Wool or Copper. Eight, Pottery or Bronze, and nine, Willow or Pottery.

Pottery gifted in two consecutive years might be grounds for divorce, thereby putting the skids on Tin or Aluminum in year 10. They say, “Ignorance is bliss,” which, in this case, could be the reason Gary and I remain married.

Our anniversaries in years three through nine came and went in a blur. Those six years saw us move south to north, start careers, buy and sell our first home, start a business, and add three kids, along with dogs and cats to the household.

Somewhere in that stretch of our wedded whirlwind, we bought a Leather sectional. We warmed ourselves by our Wood-burning fireplace, ate lots of Fruit, and picked Flowers for the occasional table decoration.

We never—as in ever—went without Candy, and our daughters’ first big-girl beds were made of wrought-Iron, painted white.

I owned both a Copper teakettle and a teal Wool sweater. We carted the kids from place to place in a Bronze station wagon. Note: A station wagon was the precursor to what is now known as a minivan.

I carried laundry in a Wicker (willow) laundry basket and planted Impatiens in clay pots, as in Pottery.

Among the themes, Gary and I have gifted Art, Music, Books, Food, Games, and more. Zero to none of the above came about on our actual anniversary date.

We celebrate each day as it comes and let Kristen and Andrew keep anniversary order.

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