Anniversary gift list includes new choicesWhen Laura and Bob Robertson-Boyd sold their home several years ago, one condition was nonnegotiable: The lilac bush in back of the house would move with them to their new home in Bexley, Ohio. “It’s not a bush, it’s my fifth anniversary present,” Laura said.
By: Melissa Kossler Dutton, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
When Laura and Bob Robertson-Boyd sold their home several years ago, one condition was nonnegotiable: The lilac bush in back of the house would move with them to their new home in Bexley, Ohio.
“It’s not a bush, it’s my fifth anniversary present,” Laura said.
The bush was her husband’s romantic interpretation of “wood,” the traditional fifth-year anniversary present. The couple, who celebrated their 10th anniversary in September, uses the list as a guideline for gift exchanges.
“It takes much more planning and it requires thought,” said Bob, 40. “The care and special attention reinforces the original idea of putting the other person first.”
The idea of attaching symbolic presents to particular anniversaries is centuries old, and in modern times has been adapted as a marketing gimmick by retailers.
Many couples still consult the list in a nod to tradition, for a sense of whimsy, or simply out of desperation when they can’t come up with a gift idea.
The practice of giving silver for the 25th anniversary originated in med-ieval Germany. The wood anniversary traces back to a 17th century Celtic tradition of giving a carved wooden spoon as a token of affection.
In the United States, a list of gift ideas for the first 15 years and every five years after that was compiled in 1937 by the American National Retail Jewelers’ Association. Paper (first year), copper (seventh) and tin (10th) are a few of the designated gifts.
Since then, an updated list adding jewelry and more high-ticket items also has been created. Clocks join paper for year No. 1, for instance.
It’s not uncommon for newlyweds to start a tradition of following the list, said Sheri Stritof, a marriage educator who writes about anniversaries for the Web site About.com. She and her husband, Bob, regularly field e-mails from readers looking for gift suggestions. “It’s a real popular topic,” she said.
Chris Moyer pulled up the list on the Internet as his first anniversary drew near. He thought it would appeal to his wife’s traditional and romantic side, and ended up sending paper roses.
His wife, Elizabeth, was impressed, he said. He figures he’ll use the list next year, too.
“It’s handy for me because I’m horrible at giving gifts,” said Moyer, who lives outside Hartford, Conn.
The list gives guidance while still requiring creativity, said Frank Zbacnik, 44, and his wife, Becky Moehring, 42, of Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s kind of fun,” said Zbacnik. “I’m not as good as my wife is in coming up with gifts.”
Although they never discussed the list, they presented each other with paper gifts on their first anniversary, in 2004. She wrote him a poem. He gave her a copy of one of their wedding pictures that had been artistically altered.
Other gifts since then have included clothing, a wall hanging and a big screen television. (Cotton and leather are for years two and three, respectively. The modern fourth-anniversary gift? Ap-pliances.)
Making the list an anniversary tradition is a wonderful way to celebrate your relationship, said Robyn Freedman Spizman, author of “Make it Memorable” (St. Martin’s Press, 2004).
“The tradition perpetuates your relationship, your values,” she said.
Laura Robertson-Boyd a-greed, saying the list also lends itself to inexpensive, handmade gifts or special splurges. She and her husband have done both. On their first anniversary, they made each other paper gifts. But for their seventh anniversary, they went together and bought a piece of copper artwork for their garden.
“Following the traditional list gives you more freedom to think, ‘What does my partner like? What would my partner enjoy?”‘ she said. “It allows you to be more romantic.”
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