We had our breakfast gift on the lanai, anniversary morning.
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.”
Payton assumed it was for her. If was within reach, after all.
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?
The Incredible Tagging War Of 2011
The Magic Of The Unexpected Gift
Unexpected Gift Giving = MilSpouse Joy
It was Christmas break, and Little Girl was home from college. We went out to lunch at a SoCal favorite, In-N-Out Burger.
And Little Girl fired the opening salvo of a war that still reverberates today.
What did she do? She checked in (because you have to tell everybody when you eat at In-N-Out). She tagged me, and she tagged our cousin Tony. His family had visited that year, loved them some In-N-Out, and she knew Tony would be jealous of where we were. And he wasn’t.
We could almost hear his groans 1,816 miles away. And the war had begun.
Soon, we were tagging Tony and his family wherever we were. Venice Beach. A prison that we drove by. Dodger Stadium. Every airport anyone flew through. If we were there, Tony was there. According to Facebook.
And, of course, Tony gave as good as he got.
Our family was tagged when he went to Spring Training in Florida. We were tagged when he flew to South America on business. We were tagged everywhere his family went. We always knew what they were doing!
And then one day, he tagged us and achieved tagging immortality. He tagged our family as being with him when he visited that mecca of local retail, Walmart. Now, of course, it’s sad that Tony went to Walmart, and it’s sad that anyone thought we went with him. What do they think of us?
But that Facebook tag was seen by Velda’s sister. And Velda’s sister asked their Mother when we had arrived in the Midwest, because she saw that we were at a local Walmart. And Velda’s mother then called Velda’s cell, asking why we kept our visit to the Midwest a secret from her.
Now, Velda’s mother does not use a computer. Imagine having to explain to her that we weren’t actually in Missouri, we were in California. But we were shown as being in Missouri on something called Facebook. And that it was a joke.
That she didn’t get, of course.
I still don’t think she believes us. After all, somebody read about it on the internet.
Little Girl, back when she was a Little Girl.
Little Girl said something important today.
Little Girl isn’t so little these days … she’s home from college now, and working at a day care business here in Santa Clarita. She’s now in charge of the kindergarten; a promotion she recently earned. My Little Girl is doing very well these days.
Her kindergarteners don’t call her Little Girl, but I do. And I always will.
In her room at the day care, she decorates the walls with a variety of stuff. She’s got a “me display” that includes pictures of her family. There’s a picture of her niece, Payton, among others.
Little Girl relayed a conversation she had with a kindergartener in her charge, and it brought a smile to my face. Twice.
Kindergartener: Who’s that?
My Little Girl: That’s my boyfriend, Eric.
Kindergartener: You’re not married?
My Little Girl: No, we’re not married.
Kindergartener: But you have a baby? You can’t have a baby if you’re not married.
My Little Girl: No, that’s not my baby. That’s Payton, she’s my niece. She’s my brother’s baby.
Kindergartener: Oh…. You have a brother?
My Little Girl: I have two brothers and two sisters.
Kindergartener: You have two brothers and two sisters?!!??
My Little Girl: Well, my two brothers are both married. And their wives are my sisters-in-law. They are my sisters.
OK, so I love this Kindergartener. Can’t have a baby if you’re not married? Love it.
The big idea here, though, is Little Girl describing her relationship with her sisters-in-law. They are sisters.
They were all 3 in the weddings for the 2 that are married, and I’m sure that Lauren will have her sisters in her wedding (whenever that might happen).
Isn’t that the way that it should be?
Here’s Little Girl … the blonde! … and her two sisters. That’s the very important mother of my Granddaughter on the left, and MrsMowry on the right. 2006.