The text message said Happy Anniversary but that’s not what made me smile. The end of the two-word wedding anniversary message was punctuated by a fireworks emoji. I’d expect this type of an emoji from my girlfriend after a grueling 24-hour intermittent fast, but not from my husband of 24 years.

On our one-year milestone, we celebrated our wedding anniversary by dining out somewhere fancy. We wore our best clothing and I put on makeup. The experience exceeded our inexperienced palates, and we struggled to pronounce items on the menu. We were young, now half our monthly rent lighter, and blissfully unaware of the hard work yet to come.

The following year, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary by dining out somewhere even fancier than the year before. We wore our best clothing and I put on makeup again. The wine exceeded our inexperienced palates, and we struggled to have an epic experience. We were still young, now half our monthly rent lighter again, and becoming aware that a dinner celebration at the beginning of summer didn’t seem to represent us at all.

For the next many years, we celebrated our wedding anniversary by being incredibly realistic. Last year we bought a toilet bowl and an ergonomically correct seat to go with it. We lovingly assembled it together on a Sunday afternoon.

Sometime the decade prior, we grabbed dinner at a fast-food restaurant on the way to a family reunion with three kids screaming in the backseat for more ketchup on their fries. Some years we’ve pulled it together to give a card, a bar of chocolate, or place flowers on the kitchen counter before heading out to work. Those were the years one of us needed to be noticed for hard work, time, effort, or commitment. Other years, one or both of us forgets the date entirely.

This year, I was out of town on our wedding anniversary. My husband spent the week managing his own responsibilities in addition to managing what I offloaded for the week. I was busy being happy in a full-service hotel equipped with bedside lamps that knew how to angle and illuminate in perfect tandem when the two-word message and fireworks emoji came through on my phone. I was about to turn in for the night.

A fireworks emoji is not the gift I expected on our 24th wedding anniversary, but in all fairness, I didn’t remember the date until the text message came through on my phone and I was about to turn off the just-right light. I thought two-carat diamond studs would be a welcome gift after all this time, but then sheepishly acknowledged that two-carat diamond studs couldn’t adequately express what has gone into our marriage so far. We work hard more days than not; we don’t effortlessly glimmer like studs in the sun.


I imagine my husband driving to work listening to the day’s headlines and pausing when our wedding date is announced on the radio. Then I see my husband in line at the bank taking note of our date posted near the teller, and still, this date doesn’t hold a deeper meaning. He spies the wedding date again on the withdrawal slip as he’s finding money for the lacrosse camp, the car repair, and for the dryer door we so desperately need.

Not until my husband is about to turn off his bedside lamp that does not angle nor illuminate without a strip of duct tape limping it into place, does the auspicious date finally register. He picks up the phone to call me but then changes his mind. He knows we’re both too tired for a verbal conversation recounting the day’s demands. Instead, he sends me a two-word note punctuated by a non-verbal icon in recognition of our 24th wedding anniversary.  

My husband does not typically use emojis in text messages, nor does he generally text anyone after 10 p.m. This pairing puts a smile on my face because this is how we celebrate wedded matrimony. I can secretly hold out for large diamond studs next year, but they will never describe our marriage as perfectly as a firework emoji.   

Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale.

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Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale.