What do you buy a couple for their 65th wedding anniversary? A list on the Web says the traditional gift for this milestone is blue sapphire. Well, Mom and Dad, I can hold my breath until I turn approximately that shade, but please don’t hold yours waiting for the gems. I only doctor paragraphs and invent leads.
So what is the appropriate gift? A few months ago, when you moved from your longtime home into an independent living facility, you gave all four of your sons the run of the house in carting away decades-old memorabilia, punchbowls, Lazy Susans and miscellaneous furnishings. Garage sales and breakage took care of everything else you couldn’t squeeze into your very nice, new, but less commodious apartment suite. So I understand the last thing you want is anything that is going to take up space. Less is more these days (although I do realize there’s plenty of room on your fingers for a nice blue ring).
It’s a bit ironic that we all helped you accumulate so many things since World War II was raging and now, when we look at what you really treasure, it comes down to a few rooms of comfy furniture, a new TV to replace the old console that started flickering out about the time the Web was invented, and several walls full of family photos. When circumstances developed that required moving quickly to be close to assistance when needed, “things” were not what we grabbed in the fire drill to help you downsize and relocate. We grabbed each other and gathered our memories and reestablished you in an environment where you’ve made dozens of new friends.
Dad, I’ve never known you to play bridge—you’ve always been a Pinochle fan—but now I find out you once loved the game and you’re back at the table slamming the competition. Mom, you’re socializing again over dinner with friends. After all those years, it’s the communication that endures and that is reinvigorating you. Your communication with each other, with friends and with your own past has sustained you. You’ve given me a great gift: the understanding that the key to any enduring and happy relationship is the capacity to maintain an ability to communicate. So I’ll send you something nice for your 65th—but I’ll be sure to call you first.
— Steve Friedman