My Significant Other tends to get depressed around his birthday. And he's had a hard year. Last year's birthday was spent in the hospital and this year is a significant milestone so I decided that we needed to celebrate. Really celebrate.
I'm a terrible party planner. I love to talk to people and parties are perfect for that, but I was plagued with questions: What day should I pick? Who to invite? What food do I need to get? Which types of drinks should I buy? What else should I get? What else should I do?
To complicate matters, I decided it had to be a surprise.
I invited as many friends and people we knew as I could contact. Hurray for email, messenger and texts. I got as much food as I could guessed would be eaten, and enough drinks to keep non-imbibers and imbibers happy.
If you know me personally, you know that I have had occasional unscripted words erupt from my mouth, followed immediately by my foot replacing those words. However, I did a stellar job (in my humble opinion!) of keeping my flapping lips shut. Using technology at my finger tips, I sent out emails and texts to invitees a month and a half before the event and enlisted help in keeping it quiet.
Happily, people are awesome! No one let anything slip, not even me when we were on the phone with Remote-Offspring. Amazing.
When our Remote-Offspring heard about the scheme, she decided to surprise him by attending for the weekend with our new Son-in-law. Awesome! Significant Other will be thrilled! During clandestine chats, she said that she would pick up the Costco Cake on her way here, since she was driving right past it to get to our house. Great! One item off my to-do list.
During the last two weeks before the event, drinks were obtained and hidden in the basement, decorations were purchased and stashed in the garage, food shopping trips were planned so that food wouldn't spoil. Let me tell you, the last 2 days before the party were spent running around town!
About a month before his birthday, I figured I needed to distract him from pining over the coming milestone date. Enter a weekend birthday trip to Montreal! It would be on the weekend before the surprise event. (A crafty sleight-of-hand maneuver!) I planned the trip and told him that this mini-trip was my present to him. Meanwhile, I began stockpiling ingredients and drinks bit by bit, hiding the really conspicuous items in various closets and cubbyholes, under blankets and in boxes that rendered them out-of-sight and out-of-mind.
The weekend away went well (great food and fun) and it took away the angst of the impending milestone birthday.
The day before the big event, I thought he might have an inclining of what was going on. But then the event day approached and he didn't voice any suspicions.
Saturday before Birthday Sunday
The last hurtle was to keep him at home until people started arriving at noon. Luckily, it was a lazy morning and we sat chatting and guzzling coffee until a car pulled into the driveway, about an hour-and-a-half before the planned event start-time.
The car door opened and we went to the front door to see who it was. Emerging from the car were 2 big silver balloons in the shapes of the new decade and Remote Offspring and Son-in-law. Significant Other was flabbergast! Horray!
As he embraced the visitors, I snuck in the question, "Tell me where the cake is and I'll sneak it inside." We all went inside to caffeinate and chat and she turned to me, eyes wide, teeth gripping her lower lip before she said, "I totally forgot to get the cake!" and, as if I wasn't going to panic, I reassured her: "No worries, I'll get it."
I came in with my family-crowd and sat around to hear news and explanations about the visit. After about thirty minutes, I slipped out, murmuring 'I've got an errand to run'. He barely noticed.
A frantic drive to the opposite corner of town to pick up the cake and I was back home, my heart pounding as I snuck the awkwardly giant cake box into the garage until the guests arrived.
We continued our conversations as another car drove up and parked in front of the house. Friends of ours emerged. They came to the door to wish him a happy birthday, thrusting a card at him. "Come in," he said, as if he knew the script I had planned.
Moments later, a group of friends crowded up the walkway, arms full of balloons and cards. He opened the door to them, visibly stunned at the group crowding the step. He asked them, "What are you doing here?"
Cards and hugs and best wishes came inside with them. I took the opportunity to start pulling food, drinks, decorations, plates, glasses, etc. etc. out of hiding places and setting party-paraphernalia in motion while Significant Offspring decorated. As I passed the crowd coming in the door, I heard Significant Other say:
"I guess this is a party!"
It was a party. There was food, chatter, laughter... It was loads of fun.
After the guests had left and we-the-family sat to talk and recuperate, he confessed that he had no idea - not even an inkling that anything was planned. He had been blind-sided! Horray!!
I could tell from the width of his smile that he enjoyed himself. He was super tired but happy. He's got a stack of birthday cards to peruse, reminding him he has good friends and family around to share special events. When I later listed out the names of people who sent their regrets, his smile widened.
And I told him that I had specified "no gifts" not that he cared about presents. The gift of friendship was more valuable.