Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy First Wedding Anniversary To Us!


I can't believe it's already been a whole year since ASoG and I stood under the chuppah together.

Ever since my time spent at my yeshiva in Israel, I've perceived how fast time moves. I remember in high school

Not only was it our anniversary, but we were honored to be the kvatters (baby carrying couple) at the bris of a friend of ours on the same day! For those not in know, being a kvatter is a segulah to have children. I guess that as soon as Shana Rishona is over and there are no children or known pregnancies, the pressure is on that we're next on the expected-to-be-parents list. That in and of itself is a whole different discussion, though one that I probably wouldn't have on this blog.


The first wedding anniversary is known as the "Paper Anniversary" according to social ettiquete, and the modern equivalent of the present one is "chayiv" to give to one's spouse is apparently a clock of some sort. This is supposed to be symbolic of the cherished time that has passed by, which although possibly romantic from a certain point of view, makes for one rather boring gift in my opinion.

As a side point, it should be noted that one of the reasons a chosson is given a watch is related to this concept, to value the time spend with his fiancee/wife.

My personal perspective is that a couple's 1-year wedding anniversary only occurs once in a lifetime (G-d willing that no one has a need for a second one for any reason), and that it is an occasion worth a bit more celebration than exchanging clocks. I started planning a series of surprises and gifts about a week and a half beforehand, all of which were designed to punctuate the date with moments and items that were special and would always put a smile on ASoG's face.
I started off by gently waking ASoG up shortly after midnight (she had gone to bed and I was studying for grad school) and presented her with a card and a pair of pearl earrings - ASoG loves pearls.

The next day was a bit crazy with grad school class, a bris, and running around to prepare the additional surprises I had in store.

I left school at 12 and ran to a local store to buy a bouquet of a dozen red roses, which I gave to ASoG upon my return home, along with another anniversary card that had red roses on the front (all of which recalled the red roses I gave her when we got engaged, and several times afterward).

As it turned out, I wasn't informed that we were scheduled to be the kvatters, though ASoG DID know (thanks for telling me, ;) ) and I ran over to shul in my regular clothing and without my davening jacket, which I typically wear to a bris to dress up a bit. We walked into the hallway and stood near the sanctuary, casually chatting together, when our Rav suddenly runs over and tells us to get ready to carry the baby into the sanctuary (ASoG) and to the bima (me).
Aside from being caught unawares (and feeling underdressed), I was really, really nervous about the whole thing. I don't have much experience holding or carrying infants, especially ones that are so young, and particularly walking down, then later up, a lengthy incline while holding the baby horizontally outward in a pillow on my arms, instead of clutched closer to my chest or on my shoulder.

Once ASoG handed me the baby boy with a smile and a warning to hold his head up, I very carefully and very nervously plodded forward with measured steps, eyes focused on the little innocent face in my arms as well as the floor in front of me. I was deathly afraid of tripping, dropping or otherwise harming the poor kid. I was confused by ASoG's admonition, especially once I saw the next man I passed the baby not worry about that at all. She later told me that just as the mother was about to hand her the child that he began spitting up, so his mother quickly took him back, cleaned him up and returned him to ASoG.

After the baby was brought to the bima and settled down into the sandak's lap, everything suddenly ground to a halt and the father ran back down the aisle and into the hallway. Everyone was a little alarmed, and our Rav turned to us, saying "Don't worry, we double-checked and it's still a boy!" He then announced that there was a last minute diaper change required. A few minutes after the little guy was refitted, the same thing happened again! After the father returned the second time, he announced that it's a good idea to bring a few spare diapers to a bris, which drew laughs from the crowd. One of our kollel rabbis standing nearby turned to me and said that the double diaper dirtying was a segulah that the baby will have healthy intestines!

The bris went on without any further concerns, and I carried little Yosef Simcha haKohen back to ASoG, still extremely nervous, but happier I was walking up and not down the incline of the aisle. Surprisingly, at least it was a surprise to me, he seemed rather chilled out, sucking on the wine-absorbed little cloth and not crying bloody murder in pain. It definitely felt a little strange carrying him and thinking about why we were asked to perform this honor, but the opportunity was eye opening and spurred a spiritual connection in me I didn't really know I had before for children...

All the while we were at shul people were wishing us Mazal Tov on our anniversary, some more positive than others. One man's father actually was nifter on our wedding day, and he told me that his parents were very much happy and in love for 56 years of marriage, and then wished us that we should have at least as many years together as they did. Another fellow told me that we should take it as a good sign that if we haven't killed each other yet after a year, we're going to be successful together.

After the bris I went back to school for a 2-hour lecture, picked up a book at the library and then went shopping for the last few things I needed for the next round of surprises for ASoG.

I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy candles for a romantic dinner I had planned thanks to our local kosher caterer. I also happened to find a nice wall-mounted clock to replace one that we accidentally broke and ASoG had wanted replaced (she liked my choice).

I ordered all of ASoG's favorite foods from the caterer, starting off with a salad with baby corn, cornbread muffins accompanied by sweet onion spread (which was made by my sister, Shades of Black), and fettuccini alfredo as the main course.

As icing on the cake (pardon the pun) I ordered a special icecream cake for dessert from our local Cold-Stone Creamery, which conveniently makes cakes sized for 2 people, along with the message "Happy 1st Anniversary ASoG" written across the top. I though about calling them back after I placed the order to tell them to add "Love, SoG" but there wouldn't have been enough room anyway, it turned out.

The key to this plan was getting SoBl to get ASoG out of the apartment so I could set up the dinner. Thankfully, she came up with a plan to take her shopping, and the timing worked out quite nicely. I had time to prepare the table, organize the food, shave and change clothes before they got back.

At dinner, after ASoG was every-so-pleasantly suprised by all the delicacies, I gave her the 3rd card in my planned trilogy, along with a pearl bracelet which ASoG loved. For those of you wondering how I can afford all this jewelry, I heartily recommend, which has some nice pearl pieces and other items that aren't too expensive.

Bringing out the little cake was definitely the highlight of the evening for me, and a perfect way to top off my day of surprises for ASoG (or so she tells me :) ). It was also a very delicious way to conclude an already scrumptuous meal.

For those wondering what she got me for our anniversary: ASoG very expertly and carefully put together a photobook from pictures I had on my old computer spanning our first date, our engagement, the wedding, and more recent events in our lives together. Each page was very well arranged and accompanied by a poetic narrative that was very cute and heartwarming. Although ASoG tells me that I couldn't have made our anniversary any more special for her, I think her gift topped all of mine put together because of it's uniqueness, personal touch and memorable significance.

So for anyone out there planning 1st anniversary festivities, I highly recommend a staggered series of surprises/gifts/cards spread throughout the day that makes the entire 24-hour period feel special. It's not the money spent, but the creative and thoughtful effort as well as the presentation that really counts.

I hope that ASoG and I get to spend many, many more anniversaries together (until 120, at least) in good health, happiness and with lots of smiles and laughter.


  1. That's amazing! May you have many more blessed and fruitful years together.

  2. Congratulations.

    Because you mentioned segulos, I'll repeat something I heard this past shabbos:

    Everyone is motivated differently. If you want to motivate a litvak, tell him it's a chumra. If you want to motivate a yekka, tell him it's a minhag. If you want to motivate a chasid, tell him it's a segula. And if you want to motivate a tzadik, tell him it's a mitzvah.


Comments are welcome, and greatly encouraged! I certainly want to foster open discussion, so if you have something to say about anything I've written, don't hesitate! I also greatly enjoy comments/critiques of my stories. But please, no spam.