My wife Joni and I have, as of July 2, been married nine years, and that’s just in this country. Our unofficial wedding ceremony, or “blessing ceremony” as we called it, took place in England two weeks earlier, and it bore more of the markings of a traditional wedding than did our American version, but perhaps I’ll wait until our next anniversary to go into all of that.
Our oldest child will be seven in August. Our fourth child is due in August. Joni is a very busy stay-at-home mom (or “mum” as her kind would say), and I appreciate her efforts to manage the home and raise our children in a way that I believe is pleasing to God.
Neither Joni nor I were very traditional when we first married (that’s one of the changes that came with having kids), but, when our ninth anniversary was a few weeks out, I started thinking of what to do for Joni on that special day. I wondered if there was a traditional gift for the ninth anniversary.
When I consulted Hallmark’s anniversary gift schedule, however, I was not inspired by what I saw. According to them, the only appropriate ninth anniversary gift for “traditional” people is willow/pottery, but, because the list didn’t include pictures, I still have no idea what they’re talking about. If you are “modern,” you have to buy leather, apparently. I didn’t see a post-modern category, but I am guessing that would involve yoga paraphernalia or essential oils.
Once again breaking away from tradition, or “modern” tradition or whatever, I decided wood would be a good ninth anniversary gift.
Apparently, traditional Hallmark disciples have to buy wood on their fifth anniversaries, while modern followers have to wait until they have been married six years, which again makes no sense to me.
We newspaper reporters often say “follow the money” when trying to guess motive in crime stories, including meetings of elected officials*, so I used that mental filter to try to determine why Hallmark lines up the anniversary gifts the way they do, and eventually I concluded they are not using this list to make extra money in any unethical way, and probably not at all.
Next, I used the “What drug are they on?” filter, but as my personal experience here is limited, I could only determine that Hallmark wasn’t on caffeine or low-dose aspirin when generating that list.
Finally, I decided to make my own list. My list is a bit more flexible based on need, therefore it is not nearly so predictable as Hallmark’s list. Using my list, the ninth anniversary is the wood and meatballs anniversary. My followers are free to choose meatballs, wood, both or neither as appropriate.
The ninth anniversary gift I chose for Joni is wood already cut, partially assembled and flat-packed into an IKEA box. I am, of course, referring to an IKEA Sniglar (sic) baby crib.
Because we are working on our Old Married Couple badge, Joni actually picked out her own wooden gift, but I was the one who came up with the meatballs add-on. Here again, as we are well on our way to becoming an old married couple, Joni has license to correct me and say the meatballs were her idea, too, but for the sake of this column we will run with the idea that it was my idea.
Here’s the cool thing about buying anything wood from IKEA: They have a cafeteria that features authentic Swedish meatballs smothered in Swedish gravy, accompanied by a glop of lingonberry jam and your choice of either mashed potatoes or French fries (which, by the way, are neither Swedish nor French).
So our ninth anniversary evening consisted of Joni dropping off our already-out-of-the-womb kids with my parents and me picking her up from my parents’ house in our 2015 Lexus ES 350*** before cruising up to Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta****, enjoying a meatball dinner and then snagging a Sniglar.
That, my friends, is a great way to spend a ninth anniversary.
Even after all of that high living, we made it back to my parents’ house early enough to collect our still-awake critters, take them home, and put them to bed.
As a final, romantic touch to our evening… and you veteran husbands out there will surely know important these unexpected surprises are to keeping marriage fresh and healthy… I let Joni drive the empty, quiet minivan back home while the over-excited kids and I piled into the Lexus, windows-down, for a pretend rocket ship ride back to the house.
* I have nothing else to say about the link between crime stories and meetings of elected officials. This footnote is added solely to test whether people still take the time to read footnotes. Thank you. Your response has been recorded**.
** Your response has not really been recorded. This is still just a newspaper.
*** The 2015 Lexus ES 350 was a media review loaner and not really mine anymore.
**** I still take issue with Atlantic Station being considered “Midtown Atlanta” because it was built on the site of an old steel mill, which the mid-towners back then would have considered to be more west side. I think Steeltown Atlanta would be appropriate.