The first wedding anniversary is a milestone in every marriage. It's something to celebrate and yet it feels strange to celebrate reaching a point that, given the vows we spoke a mere twelve months ago, should pretty much be a given. Our first American wedding anniversary will be 21 January and at this point we have absolutely no great plans made for a celebration, public or private. I think this sets an excellent precedent for our first Swedish wedding anniversary in August.
None of our cakes came with a top layer to be frozen and consumed on our first anniversary (a tradition of sorts in the United States) nor would it have made it from the States or Sweden to Italy in any shape to be eaten a year later. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't want to eat a dry and stale cake that's been frozen for a year; a static reminder of who we were a year ago. I'd want to share something fresh and lovely and sweet....something that acknowledges that a year has passed and life has changed for us both.
My research, limited to asking Leif's sister if there was some kind of Swedish tradition around the first anniversary tells me that there are no traditions so I can't incorporate something Swedish (except Leif) into our anniversary. I haven't researched Italian traditions at all but I'm guessing that if there is one it involves his mamma making dinner, because she knows exactly what he likes and how it should be made and this is the perfect time to remind him that she can't be replaced by some pretty face. We won't be including this charming tradition either, as I can feel inadequate all by myself, thank you very much.
What we will be doing is eating dinner at home. Without gifts, flowers or dramatic gestures, all of those props we've been convinced embody romance, he will make me feel like I'm the only woman in the world. Together we'll cook dinner with all the courses and wine (very Italian) surrounded by candles (very Swedish) and spend the evening all by ourselves (very American). It will be amazing because we'll share it joyfully and completely, like we share everything else in our lives.
I'm guessing there are those who want to think that passing our first year together in Italy, land of romance and love, somehow magically guarantees bliss.....rainbows and roses and happiness everywhere we turn. Then there those others who insist that marriage is some kind of torment (whether you live in a paradise or not) that changes both people so much that their nearest and dearest hardly recognize them anymore; a life of unmet expectations and reluctant compromise. The truth is somewhere in between.
We both know that the only guarantee each day is that the sun will rise in the morning and set at night. The rest is in our own hands and hearts. Happiness is a decision and we decide each day to be happy, to be content and to love each other. If we have an unmet expectation you can be sure it's one that hasn't been voiced. Hurt feelings and disagreements are inevitable but never reach critical levels because we confront them head on, the sooner the better. Cultural and language differences will probably always be with us, but the longer we're together the easier it will become to work them out quickly.
When it comes to romance, living in Italy isn't any different than living in Minneapolis. Or Hawaii. Or Sweden. Romance happens whenever we're together, so much so that we don't even notice our surroundings sometimes. So this first, first anniversary is really just a good excuse to make something just a little fancy and burn candles with great abandon and acknowledge to each other that this has been the first of many wonderful years together.