My world has been transformed in the last couple of years, with something so simple it amazed me.
It started on my birthday in 2007. My newest neighbor and friend, a single mother without a lot of resources, decided to surprise me. Now, keep in mind that this is never an easy task, as my intuition is pretty good and I normally catch anyone trying to catch me off guard.
It was Christmas Eve, and also my birthday. We were scrambling to make sure that we had all the gifts together and that we were able to spend time with everyone we wanted to. Trudy and her daughters were supposed to come over before they went to her family gathering and I was anxiously awaiting her arrival. I had been able to grant one of her wishes and was SO looking forward to seeing her open the gifts from my family to hers.
They were late. I looked out the front window and her car was still at her house. I walked to the back of the house to call her from my office and prod her to get moving. There was no answer. I called out to Mike “Is her car still in the driveway? She’s not answering her phone!” I heard the laughter in his voice when he responded “Well, yes, but there’s something weird going on in your yard…..”
I ran to the front door and looked out just in time to see a couple dozen balloons, tied with ribbons, draped all over my porch rail. And Trudy and the girls ran up to the porch with a small chocolate cake covered in gummi bears.
It was the first time in my entire life that anyone had made a big deal about my birthday. It was absolutely amazing to me. The balloons hung on the porch for a while, then they moved into the house.
My son’s girlfriend’s not quite 2 year old wore them like a cloak and hobbled around the room, generating gales of laughter. The next morning, the balloons were still there. We moved them aside for Christmas with Mike’s children. The boys batted them around the room and the princess wrapped them around herself and declared “I”m going to balloon you daddy” and ran into Mike over and over. More gales of laughter.
The day after that, the balloons were still there, bouncing around the living room with the flow of the air. Mike and I took them to my son’s home – it was his girlfriend’s birthday that day. We decorated her porch with the balloons and left a card with a gift certificate inside under the door mat.
Since that time, I have never let myself run out of balloons. It’s a rule. When the times get tough, we blow up balloons and bat them around the room. When money is tight, there always seems to be enough for a bag of balloons and ribbon to celebrate some event.
When the young lady across the street turned 13 last month, we ballooned her in grand style. I blew up and tied so many balloons (around 400) that I wore the skin off the side of my finger. When she walked in, balloons fell on her and from behind the balloon wall draped across my living room came 6 or 7 of her best friends yelling “SURPRISE”. It was Epic.
If you want to have fun on the cheap, buy a bag of balloons and a roll of ribbon. See how long you can keep from playing with them. Bet ya can’t! And if you can resist, bring in a child and let them show you how it’s done.