What gift does a woman get?

Our wedding anniversary is this coming weekend, and men often ignore such occasions if they have been married that long and feel they can be forgiven for faulty memory after so many years.

Not me. I’ve had it circled on my calendar for weeks. So I wouldn’t forget.

We all know silver is the traditional gift for the 25th anniversary and gold for the 50th. Most of us even know it’s paper for the first anniversary, when everything was simpler:

“Happy anniversary, Honey. Here’s a fifty. Go buy yourself something nice.”

I found out that there is no traditional gift for the 28th anniversary, although when I researched it online I found a lot of references to orchids.

Orchids? If I celebrated her past 28 years with orchids, I might not live to see another anniversary. She doesn’t like getting flowers.

She is more of a live-plant woman, and she loves the vines and flowers she grows in our backyard. The only time I remember her getting excited over cut flowers was when she was named employee of the year at work and her gifts included a dozen roses in a box. Roses: boring. But getting them in a box: priceless. I never understood her logic, but not needing to understand helps last 28 years.

Seeking a gift on the Inter­net that wasn’t orchids, I read that I am not constrained by typical gifts and “have free reign for the 28th year wedding anniversary.”

Free reign? That would mean I rule over the marital milestone, which, as we all know, has never happened to any husband. What that Web site should have said was “free rein,” which means to control the reins of something, thus the course, the destination.

Again, that isn’t what husbands do, but it’s the right thing to say grammatically. People with free rein have a hand in guiding the horse. (If you don’t know what reins look like and do, this is a learning moment, so look it up.)

Over the years, I have been caught in a lot of free rains but have had little free rein and no free reign at all. I am not the monarch of my household. It’s been that way for husbands ever since the Stone Age, when Fred Flintstone found it was Wilma who ruled the roost. (This is confusing, because the Stone Age ran for millions of years before ending several thousand years ago. Pebbles Flintstone was born in 10,000 B.C. But the dinosaurs shown on the program last breathed at least 65 million years ago, so Fred Flintstone had more problems than simply remembering his anniversary.)

By the way, “rein” and “reign” are homophones: they have the “same sound.” They also are heterographs (“different writing”) because they are spelled differently.

What does any of this have to do with anniversaries? Nothing, but it might cloud the issue until my wife forgets that I didn’t buy her the historically correct gift – which she would have hated, anyway. Orchids?

Happy 28th anniversary, JoAn. Or is it our 29th?

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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