Mike and I are fairly predictable people. We like to plan. We sit in the same area at church every week. Our idea of spontaneity would be entering something into our Google calendar that same day. The last time we jumped in the car unplanned and went out was before we had kids. We had a craving for Joy Yee’s bubble tea and felt so outrageously crazy heading out at 10:00pm to Chinatown on the fly. Had it been around back then, we would have captured the moment on Instagram with the label #YOLO! You cannot handle our party animal ways! The fact that my mommy-fried, forgetful brain can even remember it tells you just how wildly epic it was.
However, my dearest (predictable) husband is having a significant birthday this year. It was time to break the mold and surprise him with a gift he would not expect but love.
A few months back, we received a promotional offer from a hotel in Vegas. We briefly considered it but ended up making the typically pragmatic decision that we could not take advantage. When Mike suggested that maybe he could go and use it with his friend, I balked at the idea of being left behind with the kids while he went and had fun. After my crystal clear objections, he considered it a dead subject.
Later when a girlfriend visited me, I did not hesitate to leave the kids with Mike and spend lots of girl-time away. We rode a hot air balloon, traipsed about Santa Fe, and went shopping. Mike never made any objections and true to his good-as-gold self encouraged us to have fun without him. Suffice it to say, I might be the more selfish one in this partnership, but thankfully his goodness rubs off on me. After that refreshing weekend, I dug up that old hotel offer and let my selfish little brain go counterclockwise into fast-ticking motion.
Conspiring emails with his good buddy Shon, spreading airline and hotel purchases around different credit cards, and being too good at lying were working in my favor. I may be a law-abiding, always-apply-sunscreen person, but the deceit was super fun to engage in and completely justifiable as a present to my man. I remembered how much I enjoyed it when I surprised Mike four years ago here (we planners can only handle surprises once every leap year). I even took the risk of letting the boys in on the secret which automatically reduced the chances of success to about 25%. It was a serious gamble, but without anything last minute to add to my Google calendar I was ready to live dangerously.
Mike believed his birthday gift to be a nice dinner out with me at Farm & Table. It was a gift indeed. We enjoyed a very rare night out without the kids. We celebrated his life, the fact that we found a yummy restaurant reminiscent of what we would find in Chicago, and that we had found a lovely babysitter.
The next night we had our good friends and fellow Chicagoans over for dinner. They brought a delicious cake, and we continued the celebration of Mike. The kids were eager to give their Daddy his present, and I could relate because I had been feeling that way for weeks. Connor gave Mike his gift bag. Inside were these presents:
Mike smiled and was like, “Uh, thanks.” Ethan quickly explained that they were all hints before he gave his Daddy this card:
SUCCESS! Mike was totally surprised, had had no idea whatsoever, and was super psyched about it. From the video I took, you might not be able to tell since all you can hear is my annoyingly loud laughter. Plus, Mike’s reaction to a surprise man-trip to Vegas looked about the same as his reaction to having to pick up dog poop all day or having a near-death experience or winning the Mega Millions lottery. His expressionless face and flat tone would not have convinced any jury, but I knew (like I knew that he would order the roasted bone marrow and lamb chicharones at dinner) that he was truly pleased. YES!
As much as we enjoyed surprising Mike and giving him a fun, well-deserved present, we know the best gift of all is the deep gratitude we feel that he is healthy and happy. Albuquerque has been agreeing with him, and for that it will always be dear to my heart. My beloved birthday boy does not look a day over 25 despite the fact that he is officially finishing his 4th decade of life, but his genuine smile is worth more than his youthful good looks. God is good. We are thankful. Mike is able to celebrate 40 to the fullest, and we do not take that for granted.
Great is Thy Faithfulness! Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided–
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord, unto me.