'Oldiwed' gifts Illustration by Ching Ching Cheng

'Oldiewed' gifts

Celebrating wedding anniversaries as a late-love bride has its challenges

By Ellen Snortland 11/12/2009

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We’ve been married for one year as I write this. We’re not spring chickens. We can’t add one more material item into our already packed-to-the-rafters house. What gift shall I give my groom? Or for those who want to give us something, what do we suggest? Being Internet savvy helps, so I Googled the tables of traditional anniversary gifts and suggestions. Alas, so many of the gift recommendations are more fitting for young newlyweds. Here’s my contribution of appropriate presents for middle-aged “oldieweds”:

First Anniversary — Paper
Youthful people give each other paper hats, risqué paper lingerie, expensive lavender-scented stationery. My suggestion for the older set who ties the knot? Why, Depends of course! Disposable adult diapers are a thoughtful gift and useful for guests who have trouble sneezing or laughing when chuckling at the twists and turns of life. Adult diapers are also useful for any arts and crafts project you may take on in retirement; they make polishing shiny surfaces and clean-up a breeze!

Second Anniversary — Cotton
For those hot young couples, 1,000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets are just the thing! For frugal been-there, done-that oldieweds, collect cotton wads from prescription medicine bottles, wrap them up and present them to your hearing-impaired better half and tell them to stuff it in their ears when everything is SO DAMNED LOUD everywhere! Geez! Turn it down, you kids!

Third Anniversary — Leather
Leather pants on nice bodies? Yowza! Leather pants on us? Bow-wowza. Better to just give each other shoes that have been in the back of the closet that we forgot we had.

Fourth Anniversary — Fruit
Yeah, yeah. This is obvious. Prunes are appreciated for so many of us over 50. Har-dee-har-har. And no, they’re NOT “dried plums,” they’re prunes, dammit!

Fifth Anniversary — Wood
For young couples, a new dining room set or new cabinets may be the ticket. Wood for your older couple? Ask your doctor for free samples of Viagra or Cialis.

Sixth Anniversary — Candy or Iron
What? Candy OR Iron? Whose idea was that? I guess candy if the couple feels the relationship is going well and iron if it’s not? This reminds me of my mother’s joke wedding shower gifts for every new bride whose shower she’d attend. She’d give the bride either a carved rolling pin or cast-iron skillet with a note on it saying, “This is in case you need to make a firm impression on your husband.” Hard to believe that my mother was a proponent of women’s self-defense, years before I became an advocate myself.

Seventh Anniversary — Wool
OK, I guess his and hers matching cashmere sweaters or a woolen bedspread would be appropriate for the people who make it through the famous “seven-year itch.” Geezer couples? Well, my ob-gyn told me at my last appointment that her biggest complaint comes from older women whose husbands have gone down the road to Viagra-ville and worn out their welcome with the Missus. A great gift idea: the original wool delivery system … a sheep. I know, I’m baaaaaaad.

Eighth Anniversary — Bronze
I thought the bronze thing was over — excuse the expression — AGES ago. I suppose the senior couple could bronze their first orthopedic shoes.

Ninth Anniversary — Pottery
The younger folks? How about a nice new dish set, with serving bowls, thrown by a local artist. The older folks? Oh geez, just go get some clay and do your best. Goodness knows, you could make some ashtrays for the guests that still insist on smoking even though you kick them out of the house. Give them one of your homemade pottery ashtrays to use while they shiver in your backyard.

Tenth Anniversary — Tin or Aluminum
For the couple in their 30s, I suppose canisters, accessories or sculptures would be fine. For your older couple? Given the economy and how many 401(k) funds have tanked, a tin cup or aluminum can for selling pencils and collecting coins would be very thoughtful.

I hope this helps the shopper who is pondering what to give the couple who has — or maybe used to have — everything. And remember, it’s not the gift but the thought that counts. If only I could remember what that thought was …


Ellen Snortland teaches writing and coaches first-time authors. Contact her at snortland.com.

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