Monday, August 25, 2008
40th Anniversary - Surprise Party
Our children planned a surprise 40th Anniversary party for us on August 16. Our actual anniversary is the 24th but Jan and I were going to Women of Faith Aug 22-23 so they needed to do it before then.
Dean called in July and said he and Jill were planning a trip to Texas for our anniversary which I took to mean the actual date (24th). That caused a little bit of a problem since they needed to be here on the 16th and not the 24th but Ben unwittingly provided an “out” when he mentioned Women of Faith. Then it only made sense that Dean and Jill come the week before and then leave on Thursday when Jan and I go to WOF.
Another monkey wrench I threw in unknowingly was about WOF. Jill had lost her job so didn’t need to get back to Nashville at a certain time so I asked if they wanted to change dates and come so Jill could go to WOF with us! She “lied” and said Dean couldn’t change his vacation at this late date!
Jan had been in contact with a whole lot of people planning the party. She actually had a hard time getting names, phone numbers and addresses for the invitations. She called the church secretary for a list of my and Ben’s Sunday School classes but she was new to the job and never sent it. One of Ben’s SS members called Jan to see if she had everything and was instrumental in getting Jan a lot of information she didn’t have. Jan ended up calling a lot of people that week to tell them of the party.
When Jan called to reserve the church, Jerry Smith, pastor, told her of the Christmas Music preview party and to work with Austin Daniel, Minister of Music, and Kathy Carpenter who was to host the party at her house.
The choir Christmas Musical preview was set for the evening of the 16th so Austin had the preview start at 4:00 with dinner to follow. In previous years we have had dinner first and then listened to the musical but with a new Minister of Music the schedule change didn’t seem out of place. The preview was held at Kathy Carpenter’s house but the dinner was to be at the church and Ben and I assumed that was because of the number of people involved. In any event, we were not too interested in what they did because we were not sure we would be going! I told the choir that if the kids didn’t have anything planned we would be there. (Many of them told Jan “What are you going to do? Lola’s saying they are not coming to the preview party!” Our main goal was to spend time with them since we had not seen Dean and Jill since Christmas.
The “plan” was for Ben and I to go to the preview party and then when we went back to the church for dinner – Surprise!! I threw a BIG monkey wrench in that plan because I never mentioned the preview party to Jan, Dean and Jill. I didn’t want them to think we had other plans they were interfering with. This caused a BIG problem for Jan because she NEEDED us to go to the preview party. She had planned to meet others at the church during the preview party and get things set up but the way things were going, she was afraid she would have to let other set up and somehow come up with a pretext to get us to the church.
We had dinner Friday evening at Two Amigos and Jan suggested they take us out to dinner Saturday evening. Jan said it had to be some place where we had to “dress up”. Of course, this was all a big ruse. We decided on Red Lobster because 1) I wanted to go there and 2) I had a gift certificate which would help them with the cost! I even gave Jan the gift certificate and made her put it in her purse so she wouldn’t forget it – of course, SHE knew she would never need it.
Jill actually found the solution to the problem of getting us to the church. After we had dinner Friday, we went to the newly re-opened Dairy Queen. The Finney’s were there so Jill told Jan, she could use Jean as a “reason” to know about the preview party. On Saturday afternoon when Jan and I drove to town to get lunch, she again asked me “Are you sure you don’t have any plans?” to which I replied “No” so she played her card. She said “Well, Jean Finney asked me if I was going to be at the preview party and I told her I didn’t know about it” So I said, “Yes, there is a preview party but we weren’t planning on going” Jan then said, “You need to go. We need you out of the house.” So I figured they were planning to do something at the house and needed us gone.
The plan THEN became: Ben and I would dress for dinner. Go to the preview party and when everyone went back to the church for dinner, we would meet Jan, Dean and Jill at the church and go on to Waco for dinner at Red Lobster. Well, we went to the preview party and afterwards called Jan to tell her we were on our way to the church. Of course, she’s at the church with a lot of people and she thought I was going to TEXT her so when I CALL, she has to hightail it to a quiet spot so I won’t hear people talking in the background. We drive to the church and they are out front waiting but instead of turning, Ben goes around the block , thinking, I guess, that we need to leave spaces near the church for those actually attending the dinner. I told him we were to go the front of the fellowship hall so we circle the block.
In the meantime, Jan and crew are watching us drive BY the church so they figure we are coming in the other door so they begin running through the fellowship hall to the other entrance. Then Dean sees us continuing around the church, so they turn and run BACK to the front.
The only spot to park is in the horseshoe drive and as we drive around we see the big sign that says “Happy 40th Anniversary, Ben and Lola” so now we are figuring something is up. Ben parks and I get out to several people clicking cameras. A large camera to my left catches my eye and I look over to see Raymond Rogers, my nephew, taking pictures. My mind immediately goes into confused overtime because while I know WHO he is, the fact of WHERE he is (at our church in Clifton) makes no sense to me!! When that clicks in, I REALLY know something is up.
We are led into the fellowship hall where about 100 of our friends are there waiting to greet us. What a surprise!
Jan (and others) told me several times how they almost slipped and said something that would have tipped us off but nobody ever did.
We had a delicious meal and had an “anniversary cake” for dessert. My friend, Brenda Smith, gave Jan the idea of Ben and I cutting the cake and feeding a piece to each other like bride and grooms do. So we did that to cameras galore snapping away!!
Part of the celebration was a slide show of pictures of Ben and me over the 40
years! Jan had been at the house one day and looked through all our albums. She told me that she was just “in the mood” for looking through our albums when in fact she was STEALING pictures!! Now the flip side of that is after the party, she returned the pictures and I got to try to figure out what trip it was, find the empty slot and put the pictures back where they belonged!
It was a wonderful party and Ben and I were humbled to know that our friends would work together to put together a surprise party and celebrate with us.