November 19, 2019

The Meaning of Anniversary Gifts

“The morning of my fourth wedding anniversary, I banged my knee on the stationary bike at the gym. It purpled and swelled, tender, like a plum.

Traditional gifts for a fourth anniversary are fruit and flowers. Things with short lives; things easily bruised.

My husband and I had been separated for a month at the time of our fourth anniversary. I had been at the gym to try to get in shape for the man I had fallen for long distance, the man I was going to join at a writing retreat soon. I had been subtly starving myself, veering into a midlife eating disorder, working hard to make myself disappear, although not the same way my mother had when she took her own life four years before; I wanted to pare myself down to the bone, flare into new life, become a creature unencumbered by grief.

Our first year of marriage was a dizzying blur. I gave birth to our son three months after our wedding; one week later, my mother killed herself in the midst of a psychotic break; less than four months after that, my mother-in-law died of a sudden heart attack. The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, and our marriage, so racked by loss, was paper-thin by then. It didn’t take much for it to tear.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"The top brass of China’s Communist Party (CCP) – its 370-strong Central Committee – recently emerged from the Fourth Plenum of the 2017 Party Congress. Such meetings, usually one a year, are key forums for policy discussion. At the previous..."

"Mayor Pete is having his moment — for the second time in the campaign. Surging to the head of the pack in a recent Iowa poll, and edging out Vice President Joe Biden in last quarter's money race, Buttigieg is staking his claim to being the..."

"careful reading of Walden; or, Life in the Woods makes it clear that Thoreau never intended his cabin to be a solitary hermitage, although fans and detractors alike often misunderstand this. It was more an author’s workshop than a fortress of..."

"In the fall of 2015, a rash of posters appeared around Copenhagen. One, in pink letters laid over an image of chicken eggs, asked, “Have you counted your eggs today?” A second — a blue-tinted close-up of human sperm — inquired, “Do they swim too..."

"While there’s plenty of disagreement about how the money should be used, almost everyone involved in public-policy debates agrees that it would be good if the federal government could collect more revenue without raising tax rates or reducing..."

"On a brisk November night, a solitary man wandered around the plaza outside the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on the edge of downtown. He had just flown alone from New York to see his favorite comic, Louis C.K., and he had an extra..."

"Judaism has been described as many things: a culture, a people, a religion, a nationality, and more (including, according to answers given to the 2013 Pew survey of American Jews, a culinary disposition for bagels and smoked salmon or the..."

"US sex education is decades behind other countries. Right now, it isn’t even mandatory in every state. Add to that the awkwardness people feel about sex and bodies in general, top it with the idea of having to have these discussions in public..."