02 February 2010

Anniversaries and other annual events

The inundation of Valentines Day advertising got me thinking about the "holiday," and the reasons we (my Sweetie & I) have never celebrated it. Honestly, he loves me, a lot, every day, and lets me know it in ways far beyond gifts of things. Put me in the bandwagon w/those who say label this a "Hallmark holiday" designed to sell greeting cards, candy, jewelry, and the one of the latest trends - cell phones. So romantic. The ads are so typical in how they depict primarily men proving love and affection for primarily women - with purchased goods. I just don't get how socially coerced shopping/gift-giving demonstrates true affection or love. Ugh. It bothers me more than christmas, because at christmas at least some attention is paid to the gathering of family and friends. No, we don't exchange gifts at christmas, either.

I feel similarly about celebrating wedding anniversaries. What exactly does the anniversary recognize? In our case, it is the annual recurrence of the day we performed a ceremony. But, it is NOT "the day" we fell in love, or that we decided we wanted to be together; that day was not the defining moment of our relationship. It just happens to be the day we did a (mostly) conventional ritual to demonstrate "we're together and intend to stay that way" for societal and familial purposes (not to mention some fiscal benefits). We chose that day because it was convenient to the sporting event where we wanted to vacation and honeymoon - in Monterey, for the [then] IndyCar Grand Prix at Laguna Seca Raceway. By the way, for the possible racing fans out there: this was 1996, the year Alex Zanardi passed Bryan Herta by jumping the curbs in the corkscrew. And for the first few years, we did celebrate with a return trip, until moving to Monterey made a special trip moot, not to mention IndyCar/CART/IRL politics led to schedule changes and eventually eliminated the event.

Celebrating anniversaries of certain events seems almost like a magic, ritual practice. I dno't have a problem with annual events that make us recall tragedies, not to keep wallowing in loss and misery, but to remind us of what we don't want happening in the world (see anything related to wars/assassinations).

As an ex-drunk lady, I know it's been almost three years since I got drunk, but I don't celebrate a "sober-versary." That particular day was not that great a day, other than the fact I only had two beers instead of twelve (it being a Monday night and all, ha ha - at least, I think it was a Monday). What is the difference in 30 days, or 365, or 1000? All those days are in the past. Not that life before today was meaningless, but what I do now, today, and tomorrow IS more important than yesterday. The things to happen, they aren't happening now, they haven't happened yet.

I don't discount that my accumulated "time in sobriety" (ugh, recovery jargon!) is significant. It demonstrates I've learned to live in a far better way. But as Jean Kirkpatrick, founder of Women For Sobriety, points out: getting sober is just the beginning of the learning. Just as the wedding was just the beginning of a married state. And like that ceremony was not the definition of my relationship with my sweetie (which goes even beyond the word "marriage" ), the day I became an ex-drunk lady does not define my, uh, ex-drunkedness. I'm not only an ex-drunk lady; I'm ME. And ME continues to think and grow and change. For purposes of an annual celebration, I'll retain the right to use the New Year to mark changes, to reflect on all aspects of life. But I love my sweetie every single, damn day, and I appreciate his partnership, affection, personality... the way he enhances my life! Everything! And I try really hard to let him know on a daily basis, as he does with me. On the odd occasions that one of us buys the other a greeting card, or a little gift, it's memorable because it's a surprise. It doesn't happen because there are red hearts decorating the drug stores, or the calendar says "anniversary".

HOWEVER, please note that my lack of conformity regarding typical gifting practices should not be construed to mean that I discourage our parents/loved ones from sending checks so we can go out to dinner on them. 'Cause then it's about remembering and thanking the giver for a thoughtful, generous remembrance. Just sayin'.

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