A Surprising Fondue!

NOTE: Pictures are forthcoming for this post! I'll repost when I have them.

People measure success by many different methods in life. For me, success is partially measured in surprising my wife at her birthday with something that she actually likes. You see, this is somewhat of a holy grail for me. My track record ain't that hot. I am not the most creative gift giver (I actually am in heavy competition with the least-creative people), and my abilities to plan 364 days ahead and strategically think of things many months before the actual date is, well, absent. Hats off to the women who do that so well. I am genetically predisposed to not do that.

So Jolayne had "the" birthday last week. You know, "the" birthday that most folks dread. She took it really well, actually; a model of someone who isn't caught up in the pop-culture that says age is defining. Way to go. I've been thinking for months about what I could do to surprise her and make it special. Ideas from sending her to a spa to sending her to visit family ran through my head. Then I thought about doing a surprise party, especially after our friends successfully pulled one off over the holidays (you were way surprised, Angela!)

The trouble came in the challenge Jolayne made me. "Just try to surprise me," she dared! Can't you just hear the dripping sarcasm in her voice? It wasn't going to be easy, especially since I was sure she'd be watching my every move. There was no way to get her to a place with all the friend where she wouldn't obviously know what was happening ahead of time. I concluded that the only possible solution was to do something at a restaurant so that she wouldn't be suspecting until the very last seconds. This had worked once before when we pulled off a surprise baby-shower caper when our youngest was born a few years ago. Certainly we could do it again.
Or could we?

And so I set off inviting friends to an upscale fondue restaurant for the event. As I was trading emails with various people, Jolayne would consistently walk into the room at the most inopportune times. Therefore, I was certain that she'd seen my mail and was on to my scheme, just playing along to humor me. So I continued playing, hoping. I told Jo that I'd planned a reservation for Saturday night as a surprise for her birthday, but no more.

Last night, I purposely delayed my getting ready for the event. I wanted to be a little late so that everyone else would already be there. So I worked on the taxes a little too long, spent a little too much time picking up the babysitter, etc. And yet I still managed to get us there right on time! Darn. Good thing everyone else was early and already seated.

On the drive over, I asked if she had any clue where we were going, and she replied that she had an idea because of what one of my girls had said. My kids, in their super-sincere efforts to keep a secret and not bust a surprise, often say something to explicitly guard their knowledge that ultimately betrays the secret. This time it was something like, "you're gonna love dipping strawberries in the chocolate, Mom. But you don't know where you're going!" So I leveled and told her we were going to a fondue place. We'd talked about doing it for years, and that seemed to placate the need in the conversation. On the way over, I got passed by a SUV that I thought was one of our friends (presumably trying to beat us there), and I was sure that Jolayne was on to me. Then, when we parked right next the unmistakable car of a friend, I was certain she knew. Yet she played cool.

We walked in, were quickly shown to our table, and when we came around the corner, Jolayne said something to the effect of, "You rascal!" We'd done it! It was the greatest secret pulled off since Dec 7, 1941. She was actually surprised! 10,000 points for Chris! (Thanks to Angela and Jenny for helping me pull it off).

We wound up having an absolutely delightful evening. Dinner took a whopping 4 hours, so good thing we didn't have anywhere else to be. But it was just so fun to share the evening with 10 of our closest friends, and to enjoy some really good food that we wouldn't normally eat. Let me tell you, the desserts at that place are absolutely amazing. A whole plate full of fruit, marshmallows, crispy treats, and cheesecake; all for dipping in the chocolate fondue. Today, at church, many of the friends who were there expressed the same sort of "We're sure glad we did that," feeling that we had had ourselves. There isn't much better in this world than sharing good times with great friends. In my opinion, that's a large part of what heaven will be all about, and is a good reason to try and earn that reward.

Happy Birthday, Jolayne. I sure love you. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. And to all of my friends, even those who wanted to be there but couldn't, thank you! You all mean the world to us. Our lives are better because of you.


Jolayne said…
Chris outdid himself and I couldn't have been more impressed. Not only did he pull it off, we had a great time. I agree, our friends are the best!
Mia said…
YEAH for you!!! Birthday surprises are the best... I hope Forrest is reading this!

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