Runaway Anniversary Gifts

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about what gift she was getting for her husband for their upcoming wedding anniversary. I knew there was some traditional guideline about what the gift had to be made out of based on the year, but being an unmarried guy (and an engineer to boot) and therefore generally uninterested in this sort of thing, I didn’t know what they actually were. I knew the first one was “paper” and one of the later ones was “diamond” but beyond that I was clueless. So I looked it up and found this:

Anniversary Gifts by Year – Hallmark

I was even more curious now. What did “modern” mean? I wasn’t sure. Although I was definitely sure I shouldn’t be buying my hypothetical wife any appliances. At least I was pretty sure that this was a faux pas (probably basing my knowledge on a movie or sitcom that I might have seen in the past). I did notice (if the “modern” system of gifts is something that’s actually widely practiced) that the gifts are different. They’re more expensive, yes, but they also miss out on what I thought was the general idea behind this tradition: to give gifts, with a theme, that come from the heart.

The traditional list is open to interpretation, and it seems like this is the whole point. Two of my friends just got married; they met a few years ago at a baseball game. For their first anniversary, I wouldn’t expect either one of them to hand the other a ream of paper. Baseball tickets are made out of paper though!

This sort of thoughtfulness just isn’t possible with the new, “updated” list. The first year is “clocks”! How are you supposed to give a gift from the heart when you have to buy a clock? There’s no room for interpretation, nothing comes from the heart. It’s just another piece of consumerism that we’re now being exposed to. The new norm.

Some of them are a little less obtuse, such as “wood” for the sixth year anniversary. But this seems to be pretty rare on the updated list. More typical now is “silverware”, “desk sets”, or “diamond jewelry”. What is a desk set, anyway?

But remember, this list does come from Hallmark, a business that (like all business) only want to make money. So remember that, and remember that our relationships aren’t defined by stuff, gifts, or money.

Photo borrowed from the hallmark.com page linked above. 

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