Tis’ the season of weddings. As a child, I never dreamed of my wedding the way some girls did. I didn’t have a clue what my dress would look like, the chapel, the flowers, the ring or the man, for that matter. The only thing I was sure of was the month: June.
At six years old, I decided June based on two reasons: 1) my mom was married in June, and 2) one of my favorite movies was (is) “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” I can’t tell you how many times I reenacted the scene where all the ‘sobbin’ women’, frilly-knickered in their bedroom, sang about being a June bride:
Oh, they say when you marry in June,
You’re a bride all your life.
And the bridegroom who marries in June
Gets a sweetheart for a wife.
Now, grown up, married, and all about the independent woman, I understand that no, you aren’t a ‘bride all your life’ and sometimes my loving bridegroom feels more like he married Godzilla than ‘a sweetheart for a wife.’ Nonetheless, the song still makes my stomach flutter.
Passing by the busy wedding cake and gown shops, I can’t help but smile at the brides and their entourages too lost in visions of sugarplums to know there’s conflict in Tehran or fecal matter in cookie dough. (Note: If you have a Nestle Toll House log in your fridge, toss it.) For brides, today’s reality is contained within the parameters of seating arrangements, first-dance requests, and the perplexing debate: to sugar flower or not to sugar flower. And God bless them, every one.
Indeed, I was a June bride and my anniversary happens to be this week. After the first year, anniversaries seem to cascade like dominos. Sooner than expected, you’re looking at your beloved, lightly snoring on the couch, mouth open, a gray patch beginning here or there, and thinking, we’ve been together how long? The numbers tally in your mind like reels on a slot machine, and when they finally ping to a stop, you’re staggered. Trust me. I was shocked last year; I’m shocked this year; and I’ll be shocked next. No matter how many turns on the machine, the sum never ceases to amaze.
According to numerous wedding websites, June is officially the most popular month to get married. So I assume blossomed hydrangeas and white satin stir nostalgia in others, too. Lately, I catch myself starting phrases with, “This time X years ago, I was [Insert saccharine flashback].” To which the other person (friend, mom, dad, brother) usually gives a throaty ‘aw’ before asking the big question: So what are you getting him?
The allusive anniversary gift. Hmm… perplexing. Between Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s, birthday, and Father’s day, I feel like my idea list is block-checked-out. But it’s tradition, right? You have to give your spouse something. Or do you? Being the bookworm I am, I looked it up.
Here it is, folks. The official 411 on anniversary gifts. Do you have your history caps on?
Commemorating anniversaries began in medieval Germany with the 25th and 50th years earning recognition. Because, let’s face it, that’s a long darn time and back then, if you lived past thirty-five, you were a superstar. On the 25th wedding anniversary, the husband crowned his wife with a wreath of silver, gold at 50. The rationale being that marital stability was honored. In the mid 1930s, the celebration of the 1st, 10th, 20th, and 70th were added to the traditional list with gifts of paper, tin, China, and platinum/titanium. But the prizes didn’t stop there. Soon every year was marked by an offering of thanks for… well, for sticking around.
So technically, I could plead tradition and say that it’s not our 1st, 10th, 20th, 25th, 50th or 70th wedding anniversary. Thus, gifts are really not necessary. But that doesn’t seem fair. Everybody else’s spouse gets a gift each year, right? Sigh. Yes, that’s right.
However, looking back on the historical roots, the celebration is not so much a recreation of the bandstand day as it is a salutation to good health, happiness, and the ability to sleep beside the other person despite his/her morning breath and hairy legs and crow’s feet. It’s about making good on the vows you took to love and cherish till death do you part. In today’s world of fast, circus-style weddings and even faster, circus-style divorces, I’d say that’s worthy of prize. Be it a leather-banded, iron-faced watch or a simple kiss that means more than it did yesterday.
Happy Anniversary, BW.
Yours truly, Sarah