I love giving gifts and receiving gifts. Who doesn’t?
But the very best gifts are those that arrive when they are least expected.
Velda and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in Hawaii (which I’ve written extensively about. Some of those links are below). We had never been to Hawaii before, so it was a very big deal when we made these plans. It was a rare vacation for us … if it wasn’t a family camping trip or a visit to see family in the Midwest, we simply hadn’t taken vacations. It was an even more rare adult vacation … something we’d never done before.
When we arrived at our hotel in Kauai, we were informed by the staff that we had two presents waiting for us. My boss Erica had sent a bottle of champagne for us to enjoy, and when would we like that delivered?
And my right hand, my good friend Kristy and her husband Aaron, had sent us an in-room breakfast. On what day would we like that delivered?
Simply, we were stunned. These gifts were totally unexpected, but the fact that these good friends wanted to make our special vacation just a bit more special was just incredible.
And 7 years later, those gifts are still very special. Can you say that about Christmas or birthday gifts you got 5 years ago?
This week, the family got another totally unexpected gift, and the result was truly uproarious.
Michael was graduating from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with a Master of Science degree. There was a family lunch at El Cholo, which is our favorite Mexican restaurant in LA.
And since it was a family event, of course we were checked in on Facebook, and of course we had checked Tony in with us even though he was in Missouri (the tagging war continues!). We had introduced Tony to the glory that is El Cholo last year. He even enjoyed their guacamole. So while we were enjoying El Cholo, Tony was getting text messages of what he was missing. Everyone sent him pictures of their entrees as they arrived. Tony couldn’t have been getting any work done; he was just getting non-stop harassment from the Left Coast.
And then an anonymous gift arrived at our table. “Someone” had sent us a pitcher of margaritas. The only message: “I hope you all get sick, except for Payton.”
At that point, the celebration kicked into very, very high gear. We laughed and laughed … until we finally calmed down enough to take this picture. My goodness, did we have a great time laughing at this gift and how wonderful it was.
How did he get the wait staff to find the right party? How did he DO it? (As his daughter Claire pointed out, all you had to do was look for the big table with 3 big guys and beards. That certainly narrowed it down!)
And then, there were some wonderful margaritas to share. You know how well that would have been received in this family!
And why was it wonderful? Because of the unexpected graciousness of our spectacular cousin. It was the perfect gesture, at the perfect moment.
Surprise gifts don’t have to be expensive, and they don’t have to be a part of a celebration. They do have to be heart-felt, personal, and loving. And that can be a candy bar when someone needs a chocolate pick-me-up as easily as it can be a pitcher of cocktails at a family celebration.
Me, I need to pay this forward to other friends & family. It’s not enough to fulfill obligatory gift giving for holidays & birthdays. To truly give gifts that properly, fully express your feelings, you need to find a gift that is wondrously surprising. I don’t mean doing the dishes when your spouse doesn’t expect it (though that’s not a bad idea, either).
The good news is that when a gift is unexpected, it’s a surprise for your friend or loved one. And don’t we all enjoy surprising someone we love?