Loving Eldest

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary is this coming June. I want to do
something special and sentimental for them as a gift. My rich siblings
are going to send them on a cruise but I’m the underachieving English
major. Any ideas on what will wow them that money can’t buy?

Loving Eldest

Dear Loving Eldest:

I’m a sucker for sentiment, as are most folks who’ve been happily
married for fifty years. I think a memory book would be a lovely gift.
Think somewhere between a scrapbook and an online album. You can
decide later what media format works for you and your parents. My
choice would be to offer both a digital and a hard-copy formal for folks
who contribute, and for you to assemble an actual coffee table album
for them to browse through and have an online collection for folks near
and far. You could use FaceBook, or spotify.com, or others, where
people can submit pictures, text, even audio files. Browse the web and
see what works for your level of techno competence.

Don’t underestimate the logistical challenges. Start now by making
lists and a calendar. Think through the steps you’d need to complete
for content by early May, because you’ll need time to put it all
together. Identify those nearest and dearest to your folks. That can
include old friends, former colleagues, people from everywhere they
participate. Think synagogue, sports teams, bridge group, political or
volunteer organizations, etc. The biggest risk you face is that someone
will inadvertently spill the secret, so whenever (as in each and every
time) you contact folks make sure you have the words SSSSHHHHHH
– IT’S A SURPRISE!!! at the top and bottom of the request and


Then offer various ways that people can contact you with
stories (maybe on your voicemail or by email), photos, or other
mementos of various aspects of your parents’ life and connection with
them. You can organize it chronologically or other creative ways. But
the most important thing is to make sure your parents know they are
well loved by people in every sector of their life. I suspect that this will
last longer in their hearts than a vacation.