So she got me. Totally. My dear, sweet, seventeen-year-old daughter got me. And her dad.
It was our twentieth wedding anniversary this week, and she always does something special for our anniversary. From the year she was eight, and we had just (literally just) moved into our new house and our new town, and she called the few neighbors we’d met in the last four days and asked them to come over to celebrate our anniversary, as a surprise. And asked them to bring something to eat or drink as well, so there’d be stuff to serve.
The next year she woke up at 4am to make us breakfast and decorate the house. There was the year we were away with family, and she put little pieces of paper with hearts drawn on them all over the house we were renting. ALL over the house. And the year she put Christmas lights on the garage and letters that spelled out Happy Anniversary in the garage windows. Each year she does something.
This year, as she packs to leave for college, she decided to do something again. Only I found out, or so I thought. She was showing me an email from a friend on her computer when another email popped up from a friend of mine who lives across the street, with the subject line, “Surprise anniversary party.” So she confessed that she was, again, planning a party with the neighbors. I believed her and didn’t ask for more details, assuming I’d see it when I saw it.
Then our anniversary came and went. And, I have to add, so did a few physical challenges for my husband and myself, so much so that we started to cancel our plans with the family and friends who were coming for Labor Day weekend. And I began to think that my daughter must have given up on our party, with everything going on.
We put our guests on hold, then when we felt better, asked them to come. And thought that was all our weekend had in store. Apparently Saturday morning my deceitful daughter asked my husband to take me out to lunch so that she could have an early birthday present delivered for me. He agreed. We go to lunch, him thinking that he is keeping me away from the house, and me getting suspicious that we’d get back home and see our house full of neighbors for our “surprise.” As we walk back (and he wastes time looking at the landscaping at every house on the way, as we’re about to work on our property), I watch a car pull away from the front of our house with its back door open.
At this point I’m even more convinced that the neighbors are dropping by, so I let him walk into the house first, since I won’t be surprised. Until I am. I hear the shouts of “Surprise” and begin to notice who is in my house. Yes it’s some of the neighbors (those who were on the contact list on my computer and in town), but I notice my husband’s mother and cousins. My friends from college and their husbands. My friends from high school and their families. My aunt and uncle and cousins. My mom who had just been down to visit the weekend before. And my friends from the neighborhood. People had traveled from New Jersey, Long Island, New York City, Baltimore, and Australia…and down the street and across town.
With each new face I see, with each realization that not only does my daughter love us enough to plan this surprise, but everyone else loves us enough to spend the beautiful Saturday of their Labor Day weekend driving long distances to our home to celebrate with us, all I can say is, “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”
Big realization – there is so much love and joy in the world, for each of us, if we let it in. There are so many people we love, who love us right back, if we will notice.
Second big realization – my daughter is a damn good liar.