Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Birthday Gift

Happy Birthday, Blog!

(For the record, the word "blog" makes me think of Muppets. And this is why: there is a Muppet song, which is probably also a real song, called "I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog." Blog is like Blue and Frog combined. Hence, I get this song stuck in my head every time I write here. Every time.)

I started Gift Well exactly one year ago today. In writing a Birthday post, I could go over all of the things that have changed in my blog-based year. I won't. Most of them are pretty well covered throughout the blog itself.

Instead I'll tell you a story I was saving for a special occasion. I was saving it for when I started having a lot of readers because I wanted people to know about it. I was saving it for a holiday it would tie in with, but then I couldn't figure out where it fit. I was saving it for a day to make people happy, but then I got confused, and then angry and then sad. But today is my blog's birthday. And my blog deserves a really nice present.

I grew up in a house that celebrated birthdays as if every year were a lifetime achievement. Which is accurate, really. Balloons, streamers, cakes decorated by my mom's hand to reflect your favorite item of the moment in a fairytale of frosting. One year Rose Petal, of Rose Petal Place fame, graced the top of my cake true to form in her layered pink dress, an icing rose delicately draped on the side of her head. I believe this was also the year I got Rose Petal's doll-sized, rose-pink Cadillac with the gold steering wheel as a present. Birthdays are special in my family. I intend to carry this tradition on as long as I have a birthday coming to me. Because it is a lifetime achievement. Your whole life in one day, every year. And that deserves a really nice present.

So last summer, M turned 30. He saw it as a marker of achievements he had yet to accomplish. A milestone that tells us to take stock of where we are and where we go from here. I saw it as a chance to win him over to the land of Rose Petal birthdays - with streamers and balloons and a week-long excuse to do whatever you want.

I started by blocking out 24 hrs. - I told him not to plan anything for one whole day, but I wouldn't tell him anything else. I told him to pack a bag of clothes that included a nice outfit for going out to dinner, some pyjamas and a change of clothes for the next day. I told him I would pick up the bag from him at 2pm that day, and from there the 24 hrs. would start.

I picked up M's bag of clothes at 3pm and handed him a set of envelopes with times written on the outside. He was to open each envelope at its appointed time.

"I'll see you later," I shouted as I drove off. I'm pretty sure he was thoroughly confused. But he opened the cards:

3pm: Make your way to the Borders at Water Tower Place. Open the next card when you get there.

3:30pm: Go to the checkout counter and tell them your name. They should have something for you. When you get it, open the next card.

I had bought a New York Times newspaper and a pen and left it with the cashier at Border with M's name. He loves crosswords.

3:45pm: Take your new crossword and pen and make your way to the Starbucks at Wabash and Chicago. Feel free to wander through your favorite neighborhood near Loyola. Open the next card when you get to Starbucks.

4:00pm: Use this (I inlcuded a $5 bill) to buy yourself some coffee. You have one hour here to do crosswords and drink coffee.

5:00pm: Make your way to Trump Tower. Open the next card when you get there.

5:15pm: Go to the desk. Tell them your name. They should have something for you.

The desk had the final envelope. Inside was a room key. I wrote the room number for our Trump Hotel room on the card and told him to call me on his way up. I met him at the door with chilled Prosecco. Inside the room, I put up streamers and balloons. I made cookies and snacks and put those out along with a few presents. Also I looked really pretty.

We went to a fancy dinner near the hotel, but mostly just enjoyed the view of Chicago from our ridiculously fancy hotel room. This was the ultimate rose-pink Cadillac of birthdays. And not because of cost. (I found online deals for a lot of the cost.) The Rose Petal quality of this gift was how it was tailored to what M likes and values. His concerns about turning 30 were wrapped up in the measure of his success and not being able to enjoy the city as much as he wanted. My gift to him was to show him how much he had already succeeded, how we could enjoy the city here and now even while looking forward. All wrapped up in a birthday surprise scavenger hunt.

Your whole life in one day. What a great day.

For my blog, this story wraps up a whole year. This gift was the impetus for writing Gift Well to begin with. A blog life in one post. Little blog, you have already succeeded. I enjoy writing here and now, in the present, every time. I AM in love with a big, blue frog. Named Blog.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! There really can be great art to gift giving. Congratulations on a great first year.