When your birthday falls four days before Jesus' annual birthday celebration, yours is often overlooked. I learned about this as a child with my friend, Scott, who complained about his birth date. People are busy doing the Christmas hustle and your "special day" becomes an afterthought. Worse yet, people tend to give you "combination gifts" in which Christmas presents and Birthday presents are combined into one. No matter how you figure it, the gift giver seems to get off cheap and easy.
Then, I married a Wendy, who shares the same birthday as my friend Scott. Being the thick-headed husband who forgets the lessons of his youth, I really blew it last year. I got wrapped up in the Christmas hustle and, admittedly, ended up as the birthday cheap skate. It wasn't pretty.
And thus, on the evening of December 21, 2007, the plans for December 21, 2008 began in earnest. The first six months or so were spent scheming, dreaming, and mulling over thoughts and ideas. By late summer I was ready to lay the groundwork and the emails and invitations were sent.
This past Saturday morning, I woke Wendy at 8:00 a.m. with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" and a gift. Those of you who know Wendy understand that she is a person for whom it is difficult to buy presents. She doesn't want or need "stuff." Her treasure lies in the intangibles of life. So, when she made an off-hand comment late in the summer about thinking she'd like one of those GPS units for her car, I made a mental note.
And that's the gift she opened. This particular model is configured for "auto" or "pedestrian" and I had it configured for pedestrian and programmed it with "Wendy's Birthday Treasure Hunt." I told her to get ready because she had a morning's worth of treasure to mine. At 9:30, I sent her off with her digital treasure map.
Her first stop was the local salon, where an hour long massage awaited. Upon completion of the massage, she was given an envelope with a message and some cash, which she would need on her next stop. Relaxed and rejuvenated, the map led her down the street to the local nail salon, where I'd arranged for our friend, Ann, to meet her. They had "girl time" as they got their nails done. Ann then gave Wendy another card, in which she found a gift card for the local coffee shop. Wendy proceeded to Smokey Row where her friend, and mentor, Monica, was waiting to have lunch with her.
Wendy returned home in the early afternoon. Knowing that she needs a little down time, I planned a relaxed afternoon on the couch watching a movie together. I had prepared her that I was taking her out for dinner. So, we got cleaned up and headed to our favorite place, Monarch's (where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner). I escorted her to the back room where her best friends and their husbands awaited us. Unfortunately, weather kept two of her friends from making it down from Des Moines (another problem with December 21 birthdays – inclement weather which ruins birthday parties). We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and retired back to our house for pleasant conversation.
It was a great day, and Wendy appreciated everything. I'm sure she thought that her celebration was complete. But not quite. I've learned that my wife, above all other earthly things, values friends and family. I'd provided her with the company of her friends on Saturday. But, her birthday would not be complete without the blessing of family. So, the family was poised and ready to surprise her on Sunday with a visit and family potluck. Once again, weather kept most family members from making it, but those who could make it gave her a huge surprise and we enjoyed worshiping together and celebrating Wendy over lunch.
Wendy said she felt blessed, but it was as much a blessing for me to bless her. My friend, Mat, emailed yesterday and groaned about the fact that I'd just raised the bar and his wife was now expecting a lot more for her birthday next year.
Trust me, Mat. It was worth the effort!