In my life, I've had some birthdays that have definitely been more memorable than others. My 14th was one I'll always remember because my family and I were overseas at the time (my only birthday I've celebrated on foreign soil). My 24th was special for various reasons, and I can remember the details of the day. My 30th was much anticipated, and my husband threw me an unforgettable party (read about it here). Last year - on my 31st - I can't even remember what we did or how I celebrated. The 31st seemed kind of like the day after Christmas to me, ya know? I mean, the 30th is so anticipated and a big deal . . . then there's the 31st and no one really cares about it.
This year, I was certainly not expecting a memorable birthday. I don't personally care to make a big deal out of my birthday, and we generally keep it pretty low key around here. HOWEVER, Chris blew me away this year with a wonderful surprise.
The day before my actual birthday was a Friday, and on Fridays I have been taking Brianna to a cute little preschool class (I'll have to blog about this later . . . it's been a great experience). Well, on this particular Friday we were also preparing to go out of town to spend the weekend at my parents' house. I had woken up late that day and really had to rush to get us out of the house. I totally wished I would have fixed my hair and put on make-up after seeing these photos, haha!
When the kiddos and I got home after class, there were a few things that I noticed were out of place. First, when I pulled in the driveway, my headlights caught the rear reflectors of Chris's car in the sideyard through the slats of our fence. Only I didn't know it was Chris's car and would have been pretty freaked out except for the fact that the electric company had been doing some work in our backyard and I assumed it was one of their vehicles. Then, Chris had hung a card on the door that leads from our garage to our house. Brianna noticed it too as soon as we pulled in the garage, and I said, "How in the world did I not see that this morning?" However, I just thought that I must have missed it since we were in such a hurry.
Brenson was asleep in his carseat, so I unbuckled Brianna and opened the door for her to go into the house. When I did, I noticed that the hall light was on. I don't ever leave this light on during the day, so I immediately paused and actually contemplated loading Bri back into the car and leaving! But, I decided to peek my head in the house instead, and this is what I saw:
Chris had come home and set it all up while we had been gone. I was seriously SO surprised! I had absolutely NO idea that he was coordinating something so special. There were six long ribbons strung from wall to wall in our living room, and hanging from the ribbons were envelopes.
Chris (who was hiding in the hallway video-taping my reaction) told me that I needed to go back out into the garage and begin out there. The card that hung on the door between the garage and the house had the number 1 on it. I opened and read it first, and it was a beautiful love letter from my husband.
Then, I went back inside where I saw envelopes numbered 2 through 32 (for 32 years). Each envelope had something special inside. About 26 of them contained love letters from significant people in my life. Now, here's where Chris gets big-time credit: Not only did he know the obvious people to ask to write me letters, but he also knew the not-so obvious. I was super surprised when I opened letters from people who were significant in my life at one time, but who aren't so much anymore. Some of these people I have no contact with beyond Facebook, even though we have been close in the past. But, he was choosy when selecting "past" significant people to ask. He only chose ones that he knew it would still mean the world to me to receive a letter from. And yes, I cried quite a bit as I read through the letters.
Brianna was loving the envelopes hanging all around the living room.
Brenson was excited, too!
Chris really paid attention to the details of this surprise. I mean, the envelopes all looked so pretty and I loved how he displayed them. But beyond that, he had asked everyone to submit their letters electronically. He then printed them all out in different fonts and colors and just made them all look pretty and special in their own way. Those are details that he totally didn't have to do, yet stepped up the whole thing just a bit. Theoretically, since no one had actually hand written or signed their letters, he could have written them all himself and just put my family and friends' names on them. However, one thing that I LOVE about this gift is that each letter is so representative of the person who wrote it. Like I knew who each letter was from before even reading their name at the bottom. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE that about these letters. They are little pieces of the people I love wrapped up in a pretty envelope :-).
One of my friends chose to do a collage of words instead of a letter. So like her to do that :-).
Here are all of the pretty envelopes:
Chris numbered the envelopes, but then didn't hang them in numerical order in the living room. I am so the type of person that felt compelled to read them in numerical order. I mean, why would they be numbered if they weren't meant to be read in order? Chris laughed at me searching for the next number every time I opened a new letter and said, "I should have known that you would have to read them in order." Of course, I thought it was so like him to not hang them in order, haha! The numbers were done in a pretty pearlized paper:
You may be wondering what the other 6 envelopes contained, since I already said that only 26 of them actually had letters in them. Well, they contained these awesome coupons from my husband. Love it!
Envelope number 32 was also a letter from Chris that simply said, "You are not 32 today so you have to wait for this one :-)" He knew that I would still want something to open on my actual birthday :-).
This was truly one of the best gifts I've ever received. And not only from my husband, but from all of my people. Chris is the one who put a ton of work into coordinating all of this, but everyone else took time to write me these beautiful letters as well. They were so thoughtful and touched my heart in a deep way. After reading them, I felt like I should write every person a letter back telling them what they mean to me (and I may still do that!). I also learned a little something or two about myself as a person and friend through these letters. Several of my friends and family said things about me that were similar. For example, 3 different people said something to the effect of, "You're someone I can call when I need to hear the truth. I know you'll shoot it straight to me." This really surprised me as I guess I didn't realize this trait about myself ?!? I also had several people write that I was a good listener and someone that they lean on when they just need someone to listen. I've never thought of myself as a listener . . . I've always been pretty sure I am a talker! Maybe I'm more of both than I thought? I love that I learned a little more about how the people I love see me.
This is a gift I will forever cherish. I'm sure I will read and re-read these letters many times (I have already read through them all several more times). It's amazing how one of the least expensive gifts that Chris has ever given me is the most loved gift as well.