~ written on the night of my 30th birthday, December 15th, 2011 ~
Sometimes even I am speechless.
Okay, I think I’m ready to talk now.
Mr. Gore is asleep on my right, Baby Betsie is asleep in her bassinet on my left, and I’m sitting in bed just trying to take it all in. “All” meaning…the sweetest birthday I’ve had yet.
It all started this morning as I sat at the kitchen table, drinking my first cup of coffee. I happened to know that my Mom was on her way to my house with apple fritters from our favorite bakery in Bristow because my precious Aunt Bea had called me earlier. After wishing me a happy birthday, she said “I hear you’re about to eat some apple fritters!”
“Am I?” I asked, unable to keep the grin from my voice.
“…Are you?” she replied, tentatively, knowing she had spilled the beans.”Oh shoot.”
“Its okay!” I assured her. “I was actually wanting to call Mom and find out when she’d be here – I’m starving – but I didn’t want to sound presumptious.”
“She had just pulled up to the bakery about 5 minutes ago.” Aunt Bea replied conspiratorially, apparently deciding that once the beans are spilled, the details are free for discussion.
I love my Aunt Bea.
Pretty soon, I heard my Mom’s car pull up. I was completely unprepared, however, when a full crowd of people came spilling through my front door, including my brother Jerry, my sister-in-law Amy, my three nieces, my dear husband, and of course, my Mom. They came bearing boxes of gifts, boxes of donuts and all kinds of merriment. After singing “happy birthday” to me, my eldest niece, Abigail, played the birthday song with her handbells. Seriously…does it get any sweeter than that?
I absolutely cherish the gifts I received at our little breakfast party…a treat stand made of mismatched china boasting dainty treats from Merritt’s Bakery (including my favorite raspberry cookies), a beautiful vintage-inspired nightdress and a porcelain bunny ring dish to keep near my kitchen sink.
Our party disbanded soon, the men to their work and Amy and her girls to homeschool. And what happened next was most definitely one of the major highlights of my birthday. While my Mom watched my children and tidied up my house, I took a long…hot…uninterrupted…shower. I clipped my toenails and fingernails. I plucked my eyebrows. I slowly put on my make-up. I leisurely chose my clothing for the day. I did a soothing hand treatment. Then I plunked myself down on the couch with sweet Betsie Fair in my lap and I watched “Live with Kelly”. It…was…heavenly…
At 1:00, my Mom took me, Amy, and Abigail on a day-long excursion to my favorite shopping center. We lunched, we shopped, and had a wonderful time, ending our evening with hot drinks and tasty treats at Panera Bread. But, brat alert!, arriving home around 8:00 p.m., I couldn’t help but be a little sad. My 30th birthday was almost over and…where was everybody? Where was my surprise party? Where was my new birthday dress and where was Regis and why was I not spending the night at my favorite bed-and-breakfast? And why in tarnation were those 2-month old pumpkins still sitting on my front porch? Couldn’t Mr. Gore have found it in him to haul them off on my birthday? What had he been doing for the last month under the guise of “birthday preparations”, staying late at the office, working on his day off…I was seriously confused. Bratty, yes, but honestly confused.
We put the kids to bed like any other night and settled in on the couch and leather chair to watch TV like any other night, and I worked on getting the brat out of my system and appreciating the wonderful day I had just experienced without expecting more.
“Are you ready to watch “The X Factor”? Chris asked, knowingly.
“Yes…” I admitted sheepishly, embarrassed that, even on my birthday, I am still addicted to reality singing competitions.
But then he decided to blow my birthday socks off.
He clicked a button on the remote and what came on the screen was not “The X Factor” but a 44-minute birthday tribute where my thoughtful husband interviewed my family, my friends, and most touching, the senior citizens at our church, asking them questions about what they remember about me as a child and what special memories we share together. Tears just popped out of my eyes as I tried to take in the magnitude of such a sweet gift while quickly repenting of my selfish entitlement and lack of faith in this man who has proven himself to me o’er and o’er.
The video was beautifully done, tender at times, funny at times, and a striking example of how well my husband knows me – the longest segments were of my own children being funny and silly (and Baby Betsie’s part is as precious as she is as she slobbers on the camera), an interview with my Grandmother (and only living grandparent) who was visiting for Thanksgiving, and a very meaningful segment featuring two true saints from our church family who had to recently move to Tulsa for reasons concerning their health; this month they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. I have prayed before that I could live next to them in heaven, for they have encouraged me so deeply for such a long time, always kind, always caring, always pointing me to Jesus. My heart is so attached to them both, and knowing that I will be able to hear them talk to me anytime I want was the best birthday gift I could ever ask for. The same is true of my parents, my beloved Grandmother, my brothers and their families, our church deacons, and many others that I hold dear. I was just so overwhelmed and so humbled and so drawn back to what things really make me happy and the joys that really last.
Well done, Mr. Gore.
After I recovered from this most amazing birthday tribute, I went ahead and watched “The X Factor” while my exhausted husband (who had been driving hither and thither fetching these interview for weeks and then fiddling with editing and converting the DVD all day with all 3 kids underfoot) took a late-night catnap on the couch. When it was over, I headed to the bedroom to ready for bed, but after washing my face, Mr. Gore called me back to the living room.
“I have one more surprise for you.” he said.
“Really?!…” I asked, thinking he had done far more than enough.
“Its not much, but you know how you’ve been bugging me to watch the “Les Miserables” concert on PBS?” he asked. “Well I just got a nap. So let’s watch it tonight.”
Backstory: We had recorded the concert early in the Fall, but Chris, having never heard the music before, wanted to acquaint himself with the (unabridged) book once more before watching the musical concert. Then we decided to watch it with our friends, Zac and Chrissy, and the result was that I had been dying to watch it for many months.
“Yay!” I exlaimed.
“Open the TV cabinet and I’ll get it started.” he said.
And my jaw dropped to the floor.
Taped to the television were two tickets to see the stage production of “Les Miserables” in Dallas the week before Christmas.
So that’s why I wasn’t spending the night at my favorite bed-and-breakfast…
You can see why I am speechless on this birthday night.