COVID notwithstanding, celebrating our milestone wedding anniversary with bubbly

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At the end of this month, I am (oops, we are) celebrating a milestone in our lives – our golden wedding anniversary. Fifty long years have rolled by that we have hardly noticed. Over time, our youngish looks have waned, but what hasn’t changed is our affection for each other… with a normal dose of ups and downs as in any relationship, of course.

I’m not one for big celebrations, but I squeamishly agreed to the proposal of a big bash since this event comes only once in a lifetime. However, our plan has been curtailed by COVID restrictions. To comply with the guidelines, we have decided to select the invitees by drawing lots! This way, those who miss out can’t possibly hold a grudge (though I have my fingers crossed on that front.)

To comply with COVID guidelines, we have decided to select the invitees by drawing lots.

I’ve consulted the all-knowing oracle from Mountain View, Google, about suitable presents for the anniversary. One website has two lists, ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ – from year 1 to year 30, and then in five-year gaps. Perhaps it was a smart call on their part regarding expensive gifts of pearl, sapphire, gold gifts by then.

The modern list suggests diamond for the 10-year wedding anniversary, whereas the traditional list recommends tin. Yes, TIN. Most men, having tin ears, would like that.

(For the curious souls wondering about the rest of the gifts, the modern list also suggests electrical appliances for the 4-year anniversary over fruits and linen – what a trade-off!)

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In terms of anniversary gifts, South Indian women truly get the best deal. In our community, it is customary for the husband to tie a golden thali (mangalsutra) around the wife’s neck on his 60th and 80th birthday, as is done at the time of their wedding. This means in their lifetimes, women get three gold medallions, richly deserved for putting up with their men for that long.

The perfect gift is but one thing on my mind. My first lady may not want anything (that will save me a few quid in this COVID cash crunch), but she has much more than those medallions – she has a heart of gold.

Looking back, our wedding was a modest affair in the temple town of Tirupathi, with only family members on both sides attending. Our first two anniversaries were celebrated while apart, as we worked in different cities nearly 900 kilometres away. Our first anniversary celebration together was in Whyalla, after our arrival in Australia.

The next several anniversaries in Adelaide have been spent over a dinner at a restaurant, followed by a quirky twist – a visit to the casino for a flutter. Not being high rollers, we set a limit and played until the cash ran out. When some friends asked ‘Why the casino?’ my cheeky reply would be ‘Every marriage is a gamble in some ways!’

As the years rolled on, visits to the casino dropped out and, after a few more years, so did the restaurant dinners. Now it’s usually a hearty take-away with a bottle of red at home. This year, our 50th wedding anniversary has got to be different.

The Queen, I am told, sends a congratulatory message to couples celebrating their 60th anniversary. I would dearly love to receive one with her signature on an ER monogrammed parchment. But we have to wait for ten more years, and Her Majesty to rule another decade. The chances of both, God only knows.

PS: After marriage, husband and wife become two sides of a coin.

Inseparable, but unable to face each other.

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