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Column: Nothing says ‘love’ like gold, guitars and groceries

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Last month my lovely wife and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. At some point during that week, she found an anniversary gift list in her planner book. You’ve likely seen such a list, one that suggests what types of gifts are appropriate for each anniversary.

Reviewing the list, I strongly suspect it was created by a woman, as it is heavy on precious gems, precious metals and housewares.

For example, many people know that when a couple is celebrating 50 years of marriage, gold is the gift of choice, hence the term golden anniversary. But gold, in the form of jewelry, is also the recommended gift for year 14.

Diamonds and silver each make the list four times. China, crystal, lace, silk, linen, pearls, porcelain, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and jade are some of the other suggested gifts.

The list goes up to the 75th anniversary. That’s three-quarters of a century of marriage, and in all those years there’s no fishing tackle, power tools, home theater systems or golf clubs.

About the only thing on the list that appealed to me is musical instruments. But that’s the suggested gift for year 24, which means I’ve got to wait until I’m 73 to get a new guitar as an anniversary gift. That’s unacceptable.

But perhaps there’s a way to work the system and eliminate the 13-year wait. Next October will be our 12th anniversary. According to the list, appropriate gifts include silk, linen, pearls and colored gems.

Hmm … pearls and colored gems. A sapphire blue Les Paul with mother of pearl fretboard inlays would kill two birds with one guitar, don’t you think, dear? Dear? Are you there?

While many anniversaries have fairly normal gift suggestions, such as china, crystal and linens, others are a bit more unusual.

For example, the suggested gift for a couple’s 42nd anniversary is improved real estate. The average age for first marriage is somewhere in the late 20s. So the average couple married 42 years would be about 70 years old. One wonders how many people that age would like to receive improved real estate as an anniversary present.

But perhaps installing handrails in the bathroom qualifies as improving real estate.

Some suggestions are simply bizarre. For example, the suggested gift for a 44th anniversary is groceries. Yes, groceries. But the gift for the 45th anniversary is sapphire. Boy, talk about an incentive for a woman to stay married at least one more year.

I’m not even sure what some of the items on the list are. Willow? Like a tree? Calico? Like a cat?

When it came to giving each other gifts this year, we followed the list … in our own way. Suggested gifts for an 11th anniversary are steel and fashion jewelry. Brenda got me a metal drawer to hold my coffee K-Cups, so I guess that qualifies as steel. I got her the first three seasons of “Downton Abbey” on DVD. That’s not fashion jewelry, but the Crawley family that lives at Downton is literally wallowing in the stuff. Close enough.

I was 49 when we married, so chances are slim that Brenda and I will make it to our 46th anniversary, when the suggested gift is original poetry tributes. But it seems a shame to waste such a lovely gift, so I shall present her with my “poem” today.

“There once was a woman named Brenda … She was my very best frienda … I gave her a ring, a shiny gold thing, happily ever after the enda.”

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