When my oldest brother, Ben, was told to fill out a form for an Economics class in Year 9 regarding his parents' occupations, he listed them as "housewife" and "ice cream man". Although the more poetically inclined scholars might argue those descriptions failed to capture the essence of my parents' role in life, they were at the time still factually accurate descriptions. Ben is more a numbers guy.
A few years later my dad's connection to the ice cream world served much more significance.
When my other bother Criddy died, Ben picked up a lot of extra responsibilies himself. All the crap stuff like dealing with the ashes and looking after me, but also one really positive thing. For reasons I don't know he picked up a number of tubs of ice cream from dad's shop, took them to our school where I was still a student (he had graduated a couple of years earlier), and dished out ice cream to all the students in Criddy's year as they exited their first HSC exam. I don't think he gave an explanation of why but it was bitter sweet. He only did it once but I was inspired enough to pick up where he left off the next year after I dropped out of school. I've gone back to continue what's now called 'Ice Cream Day' by the school every year after that on the first English exam of the Year 12 HSC. Last week was our 12th year.
I actually did miss one year. Last year. I was trekking overseas at the time so dad stepped in for me. It turned out for the best because it seems he must've gotten a taste for it and we've now made it a bit of an inclusive family activity this time around.
The school has been wonderfully supportive and they always make an announcement after the exam to explain to the students what the significance of Ice Cream Day is.
Anniversaries don't have to hurt so much if you find the right way to celebrate.