405: Anniversary

A Thousand Things to Talk About
405: Anniversary

What anniversary or anniversaries do you celebrate, if any?

Show notes and links:

Full episode script

Talking with a friend recently, they mentioned that they were soon to celebrate their dating-a-versary with their now husband — which happened to be a few months (and a few years) before their wedding anniversary. Another friend mentioned that she was going to be having her annual celebration to mark her father’s death and celebrate his life.

And I got to thinking about that peculiar seasonality and emotional connection that seems to come with specific times of the year. Dr. John Sharp calls it the “emotional calendar” – a set of cues that come around on a regular basis and bring up memories and feelings that may otherwise lie, if not dormant, then perhaps silent.

Dr. Libby Webber, musing about the practice of marking anniversaries at all, wrote:

“So why do we celebrate, commemorate or otherwise mark anniversaries? Human societies have always marked important stages in the life cycle — births, marriages or formal unions, deaths. And we’ve celebrated the natural cycles of the world around us too — the changing seasons, harvest time, the turn of the year when the days become longer again. I wonder if marking these regular events gives us a sense that life has a structure and a rhythm rather than being random, chaotic and unpredictable? Within the familiar structure given to us by anniversaries, perhaps we can tolerate a certain amount of chaos and unpredictability, knowing that we have a number of fixed points ahead in the life of the family or the community.”

It may or may not be the fact that it is specifically a full orbital period of time of this planet around the sun, but a set time to mark a celebration — a way to say as a group, individual, or community, that “hey, we’re here, and that thing happened, and we remember it but we’re also different” can have a lot of positive impacts.

But it doesn’t always have to be about the things that lasted, as Andrea Bartz wrote in Refinery 29. Quote:

“Normally, we only celebrate what lasted, but in my case — and likely many others — the breakup was when my whole world opened up. I think of it every year, when New York tips over into fall. And why shouldn’t we celebrate the negative spaces (relationships ending, jobs coming to a close, not getting something you desperately wanted) the same way we mark the seemingly positive ones? For me, the fall is always when I think back to late 2006. I remember the jagged pain, but I can’t pull it up anymore; it feels faraway and filmy, a fact I trust but can’t verify. But that expansiveness, the sudden realization that I could do whatever I wanted with the rest of my life — that sense of awe and space and wonder — never stops refreshing.”

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.