For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about my upcoming wedding anniversary. I had a couple good ideas, but every time I sat down to write, I got stuck.

It shouldn’t be hard to think of ways to describe how much I love my husband . . . right? I shouldn’t struggle to write 11 ways our marriage has improved over the past 11 years or a list of the many times I’ve fallen in love with my husband over the years.

But some things are hard to put into words.

So when I read Brad Ruggles’ blog post, What’s In Your Shoebox? I was relieved. Finally, I had the perfect way to commemorate my 11th anniversary. I’d just find 11 keepsakes that symbolize my relationship with Mark.

Easier said than done. Apparently I’m not the Level 1 hoarder (random Bones reference, if you’re wondering) I thought I was.

I rallied, though, and found 11 things (even if they’re not technically “keepsakes”) that, when put together, form a picture of a decade-plus of marriage.

Embroidered Teddy Bear Vest
Don’t tell me you don’t have one of these in the back of your closet, too. What? You don’t? Oh, right. Me either.

I actually keep this in my cedar chest. Not because it’s so cute or might someday be in style. I keep this vest because Mark gave it to me for Christmas just a couple months after we started dating.

It wasn’t cool in 1994, either. His mom picked it out for him. How cute is that?

Movie tickets
I can’t even focus on why I kept these tickets. All I can see is how darned cheap movies used to be! Seriously! When was the last time it cost just $3.75 to see a movie?

When we were engaged, I compiled a bunch of photos and ephemera from our dating days. (Yes, I said “ephemera.” Ever since I learned what that word meant, I’ve been dying to use it. Sure, I could have said “souvenirs” or something like that. But where’s the fun in that?)

Anyway, I stuck all that stuff, along with some cheesy quotes and clip art, into a scrapbook. And even though that was more than 11 years ago (and my scrapbooking has, ahem, changed a LOT), I still get the urge to keep my movie stubs after going to a movie with Mark.

Martina McBride CD
I’ve already told you the story about this one. On Valentine’s Day 1998, I was expecting Mark to propose. Instead, he gave me a very disappointing thoughtful gift, this CD.

Engagement ring
I can’t wear my engagement ring right now. Yes, I know I could get it stretched, but I am still (STILL!) holding out hope that I will – someday soon, preferably – lose enough weight to wear my ring.

I miss wearing my pretty little diamond ring, but – for those of you who are worried I’m walking around with a naked ring finger – I do wear a wedding band.

Every once in a while, Mark will write me a nice note, and I’ve kept this one long enough that I’ve moved it from one planner to another, sticking it in a place of honor with a paper clip.

Shot glasses
What started as a way for Mark to be as “cool” as his best friend who collected shot glasses has become a way for us to commemorate our travels as a family.

In other words, aside from a magnet or pencil, a shot glass is the cheapest souvenir you can find in gift shops around the world, so we buy one on every vacation.

It’s silly, but it’s ours. Seeing those little glass cups on top of Mark’s dresser reminds me of the trips we’ve taken together. And reminds me that I really should dust more often.

Awwww . . . so sweet, right? Okay, maybe not. But if there’s an item in our house (or in the garage, as the case may be) that illustrates part of our history, it’s a pair of crutches.

Mark’s crutches, just to be clear. That man has been injured more times than I can count! (I’m kidding. There will be a Top Ten Tuesday post about it in my future.)

But seriously, dealing with an accident-prone husband has taught me more patience than I ever thought I had.

I don’t know exactly why I love plastic cups so much. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that glasses never seem to get clean in my dishwasher. Tacky as it may be, Mark has indulged this quirk for years.

And by “indulged,” I mean he has picked up – and sanitized – plastic cups from ridiculous places, just to fill up my cabinet with cheap, logoed cups.

And I love him for it.

Annalyn’s dress
In the days after Annalyn was born, I spent a lot of time sleeping and recovering. Mark, on the other hand, spent a lot of time bored and frustrated. Bored, because he was used to being on the go constantly – not sitting at his wife’s bedside, holding her hand and speaking softly. And frustrated, because that’s exactly what I wanted him to do.

I barely even tolerated him visiting Annalyn in the NICU. What can I say? I was extremely crazy hormonal.

But one night, after I finally fell asleep (thanks to a dose of Benadryl, my version of anti-anxiety medication), he snuck out for some fresh air. And came back with a gift for our tiny baby girl: the cutest little dress I’d ever seen.

Bible study books
Throughout our marriage, Mark and I have been part of several different small groups. Each one has played a part in our faiths and our relationship, forcing us to grow in ways we never expected when we first decided to start a couples’ Bible study at the BSU.

Scrapbook pages
As I said before, my scrapbooking style has changed quite a bit since the days of our engagement. But I never get tired of documenting our life together – even if it means stepping out from behind the camera and getting in the picture for once.

I know these keepsakes, these things are silly. And oh my goodness, this post could not possibly be any longer. But to me, these 11 items draw a beautiful picture of the man I married 11 years ago: sweet, fun, giving, thoughtful, patient and faithful. And that is one picture I will keep forever.

Happy anniversary, Mark.

What keepsakes tell the story of your relationships?


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