As a newlywed, the first anniversary kind of sneaks up on you. Everything leading up to your marriage is scheduled out because there’s a big production to put on: your wedding. Meeting with caterers, florists, and venue owners makes the time go by quickly, but there’s a specific end-date that’s being worked toward. Once the honeymoon is over and you’ve both returned to your new life together, there’s not that much to “look forward to” in terms of big events.

Time passes as you both get to know each other better and before you know it, your first anniversary is upon you. Traditionally (depending on which tradition you’re following), the gift for a first anniversary is paper. This is a vague enough item that could be construed in many different ways. As an author, I felt obligated to write something.

To be honest, I almost forgot that my anniversary was coming up. The holidays were so busy that I hadn’t realized they wouldn’t truly “end” until April. Thanksgiving rolled into Christmas, which itself rolled into Valentine’s Day. Add to these national holidays the fact that the majority of my family (and now my in-laws) have birthdays in February and March. With my wedding anniversary tucked away in the middle of March, it had almost slipped my mind that I needed to prepare something for it too.

Fortunately, six years of quickly writing novels have given me the ability to write pretty well under pressure. Granted, I would have liked to do a few more edits on what I wrote, but in order to get the gift delivered on time, I had to leave it as it was. Still, the words I wrote came from the heart, so perhaps it was better to leave it more “raw.”

Now you might be asking yourself what I could have written to celebrate the first anniversary of marriage with my lovely wife? While we were still engaged, I wrote her a love letter that I sent through the mail to her house. Once she read it, she told me that she could feel my love for her through my words. For our wedding vows, I wrote a Shakespearean sonnet that I used to convey my feelings for her (it made all her bridesmaids cry, so I guess “mission accomplished”). When I looked back and saw that, as a writer, I had only given my wife two written pieces of my love, I decided to remedy that situation.

For a couple of weeks, I set out to write a series of love letters to my wife. Some were poems, some were prose, but all of them are meant to convey my love to her. The trouble with some of these letters was that they had to predict what would happen in our lives together. Some of them are a little vague and general to cover anything that might pop up in the future, but others were written knowing what we’ve gone through and what we still have to deal with. In the end, I ran out of time to write more than a few dozen love letters, but (if anything) this will give me the opportunity to write more specific ones in the future.

Now I could have merely printed out these love letters and put them in envelopes, but that didn’t seem to have the same amount of “permanence” that I wanted to convey. As it just so happened, I have a few years of experience self-publishing my novels, so I went to work formatting these letters, designing a cover, and approving the proof copy to create a professionally printed book filled with the words of my love for my wife.

If this whole process has taught me anything, it’s that I need to start preparing earlier next year. I wonder if I have enough time to embroider a poem on a cotton sheet . . .

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