While I was swiping through pinterest (don’t judge- we all do it), looking for “traditional” paper anniversary gifts, I kept thinking: “Did that. And that. And that too.”
When you have done long distance for as much of your relationship as my husband and I have, you use a lot of paper. I spent one deployment writing him middle school love notes, folded up with colored pens. I’ve annotated all the song lyrics that make me think of him in every color imaginable. I made a book that listed one reason I love him for every day he would be away. We’ve written hundreds of love letters and sticky notes over the years.
I spent hours looking through the boxes that now hold years of paper memories. The note I wrote him after our first kiss that said “p.s. I really like kissing my best friend.” The note he had written “I love you” on for the first time (which was actually a response to a thank you note from me that said, “I love it” originally). I was waiting for something to inspire me. In the end… pinterest did.
Well… Pinterest and our vows.
We wrote our own vows. For two people who like to write as much as we do… and who like each other as much as we do, it seemed like the right move for us while we were planning our wedding. I loved our vows and over this first year of marriage I have realized just how important they are, so I wanted a way that we could read them every day, but I wanted it done discreetly enough that not everyone who walked in our house would have to stare at them in order to feel polite.
After I finished designing the print of our vows, I wanted to do something else. More paper!!! When it comes to year five, I’m going to be screwed. No way I stand a chance at beating him when it comes to wood working, but paper… that’s just kind of my thing!
There are a lot of songs that have played a role in our relationship, but one of my very favorites is “I Choose You” by Sara Bareillis. It wasn’t first dance material, but we wanted it to play a role in our wedding because the lyrics ring so true to our relationship. We used it for our recessional, and I play it (instead of the music picked by our videographers) every time I watch the “sneak peak” of our wedding day film.
Given the journey of our relationship, there is just something about the lyrics “I Choose You,” that has always made me smile. I decided that I wanted to design another print as a visual reminder to both of us each day, how lucky we are to have chosen each other. (You won’t be able to read it, but the lyrics are printed inside that ampersand.
When it came time to open gifts I had a hard time imagining what he would have come up with that required a large box. Maybe it was a paper mache sculpture of our dog, I thought, mostly kidding, as I opened the flaps of the lid. It was not a sculpture. Instead, nestled inside a bed of straw were twelve jars. “Start with this one,” he told me pointing at the bottom left hand corner. I lifted the jar and hanging from a thread attached to the cork lid was a piece of paper that said, “I love…”
Each subsequent jar also had a piece of paper dangling inside with something he loved about me. He’d taken the time to glue ribbon and roses around the cork of each jar so that they matched a set of three frames we have perfectly. Now they sit on a shelf (that he mounted several hours later) on our wall beneath the frames. For a guy who has never been on pinterest… well, I have to say… I was impressed. I asked him how he came up with this idea, and he said he was just wandering around Makeman (the hardware store in Okinawa) thinking how great he was going to be at the wooden anniversary, and wondering how the heck he was going to pull off paper anniversary gifts, when it came to him. I guess maybe that’s what it was like to come up with ideas before having pinspiration at your finger tips. Maybe next year I will challenge myself to come up with a good cotton gift all on my own. (Probably unlikely)
As for paper being my thing… He kind of proved me wrong. Since gift giving isn’t about winning or losing, I’m not going to say he won… but if it was about winning and losing… well… maybe I would say he had. The boy did well. Which, come to think of it, I guess means I won.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.