Meanwhile, the Smaller Half and I have recently celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. "Celebrated" having a specific meaning, of course, when you have a small child and busy jobs - we caught up for a late lunch and shared a sandwich. Hooray!
My brother observed that the 9th anniversary is traditionally associated with gifts of willow and pottery, and that perhaps there was some relationship with the Australian cricket team having just won the Ashes. I thought that this was a surprising coincidence. He thought that there was perhaps a causative relationship. So I started to look into some of our previous anniversaries to see if any other momentous events may have been due to our tying of the nuptial knot. First, I needed a definitive list of the traditional gifts associated with each year of marriage.
Much to my surprise, I discovered that every man and his dog seems to enjoy inventing and propagating such lists. There are "modern updated lists" which claim, for example, that the 4th anniversary should be marked with the gift of kitchen appliances. There are "spiritual lists" which claim that the 6th anniversary is the quartz anniversary. There are "nerd lists" which insist that the 10th anniversary is the "flight simulator" anniversary. These were not what I wanted.
Eventually I managed to track down, in the local library, a moldering crumbly parchment. It is dated from the middle of the 14th century, and has been tucked away, hidden for centuries, in the 23rd edition of the Guinness Book Of Records, which had been mis-shelved in the poetry section. It records, in the wavering hand of the Capuccin monk Bernadetto Ristretto, the definitive list of anniversary gifts, and was penned as part of the church's planned statement opposing marriage between unrelated couples, the intention being to glorify and uphold the status quo. And it goef a little fomething like thif:
- Paper. Preffed ye from reedf growne on the bankf of the briny ocean.
- A booke of marvelouf and interefting geometrey.
- A dicke in a boxe.
- Tranfuranic metalf, formed into a chain or locket that doth glow.
- A fmall puppey or kitten, calleth Fpot or Fufie, refpectively.
- A big hatte, fufficient to hide therein a dram of wine.
- Anti-hiftaminef for the relief of the feafonal rhinitif.
- A hogfhead of wine, fufficient to hide therein a big hatte.
- A pockette-fized notebook for the tranfcribing of one'f numerouf paffwordf.
- The Blue Whale and feveral dayf krill for the feeding of.
- A particularly bouncey balle, for fport.
- Thingf of the color red.
- A native of the Indief for one'f perfonal amufement and care.
- A jar of fartf.
- A gifte voucher for a night in one of thofe noveltie "Ice Hotelf".
- A choir of flender boyf to fing the greateft hitf of Ftatuf Quo.
- To have a new font named for you, oh verily.
- A glaff of horfe milke, with the haire extracted with all due diligence and care.
- A confervative legiflature.
- The Duke Of Yorke, with pantf of courfe..
- A copy of thif lift.
... and so on. It was a useful list, and certainly much more interesting than the typical nonsense that gets foisted on unsuspecting couples every anniversary. It's such a shame that such a valuable piece of tradition and history has been lost for so long, and I am very excited about having the opportunity to bring it to the attention of the world.
I suggest that the next time your anniversary rolls around, or that of your parents or siblings, you consult this list for gift ideas. Just imagine how surprised they will be!