John and Diane Rice are off celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, so congratulations are in order. In honor of the occasion, we thought we’d run a vintage Rice column from July 11, 2001.

Dear Diane,

Sorry I can’t be with you on our 21st wedding anniversary. As you know, I’m playing golf all day. I know that sounds selfish, but I’m playing purely for romantic reasons. Because remember how I also played golf on our wedding day?

I know, I know I’m just a sentimental guy. I also thought you’d like something sentimental and romantic as an anniversary present. Rather than the usual expensive jewelry. So this letter is my tribute to 21 years of happiness with you.

Thank you for coming into my life and introducing me to new concepts like affection and togetherness. It reminds me of a friend who said he was an emotional ice cube before he met his wife. I wasn’t that bad. I was more like an emotional glacier.

Thank you for being brave enough to go outside your culture and comfort zone. You got off to a great start, in fact, taking that death-defying mule trip down the Grand Canyon on our honeymoon. Thank you for culturally meeting me halfway, to the point of actually listening to Irish music. In short, thank you for being a good sport.

I’m grateful that you shocked me out of using the silent treatment early in our dating days. You pulled over on the shoulder of the Eisenhower Expressway and told me to get of the car if I had nothing to say. I still remember the words I used to get back in the car. “So, what do you want to talk about?”

Thankfully, we never used silence as a weapon after that. But it does bring to mind all the wonderful things you didn’t say during these last two decades. Thank you for never yelling at us for playing football in the living room, soccer in the kitchen and basketball in the basement. Thanks for not complaining about unexpected company, friends coming over late and the fact that I can’t fix anything in the house.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the way you stayed home for 14 years and gave our children a secure start in life. It was also good of you to go back to work after that, so we wouldn’t have to live in the van.

Working at the school has been a boost for you and gives others a chance to experience your warm generosity. Why, we can’t walk around Forest Park without you being greeted by friends from school. True, they’re mostly men. But you tell me that’s because the school is under construction.

Thank you for looking more beautiful today than the day we were married. I also appreciate your inner beauty and the strong spirituality you bring to our family. We must be the only people who pray before eating Parky’s.

I thank you for the way you welcome everyone into our home. Even people from my family. I also appreciate how you include everyone and really listen to what they say. Thanks for listening to all my stories. And for not rolling your eyes out of their sockets when I launch into one for the thousandth time at some party.

Thanks for being my best friend. I couldn’t ask for a better person to spend my life with. Not to mention your … oh, I’m next on the tee. Happy anniversary, Diane.

Love, John

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.