HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Newlyweds Marion and Don Gade started a tradition with their good friends and fellow couple the Rev. Martin and Diane Schnare by sticking to this light-hearted sentiment inside an anniversary card: "Save this card. You can send it to us on our anniversary!" And no matter what community the couples call home, they've kept the tradition going back and forth for four decades.
Don Gade and his wife, Marion, were married Aug. 8, 1979, and the Schnares were married a couple weeks afterward. Gade said he knew Diane Schnare from teaching in the same school, and the Gades and Schnares lived about a block-and-a-half from each other in Cape Girardeau. The Schnares moved to St. Louis, where Martin attended Concordia Seminary. The Gades later moved to Waterloo, Iowa, before calling Hannibal home in 1997.
The Rev. Martin Schnare is semi-retired, and his wife still teaches school in Nebraska. Each anniversary, they know they'll get a letter with updates from the Gades' year and the familiar pink card that reads "Happy anniversary to a charming, fun loving, attractive, clever and fun-to-be-with couple." And the Gades know they'll receive also learn what's happening in the Schnares' lives a couple weeks later inside the card. Each year from 1979 to 2019 is listed inside.
"Lots of things happened in those 40 years," Gade said.
The letters each Christmas and anniversary have kept the couples in touch and up-to-date on what's happening long after they moved from Cape Girardeau. A strip of tape now holds the front and back halves together and the edges are showing some wear after decades of sharing milestones and best wishes -- but the tradition will continue.
"Wherever they're going to be, we'll send the card, as long as it lasts," Gade said with a chuckle.