I am somewhat known for planning great birthday celebrations for those closest to me (see here for one such opinion). In fact, Phil often lists "a thoughtful giver" among the qualities he most appreciates in me. So, imagine my horror when I realized that in booking our flights to NY (for a Design Conference - a whole week of typography bliss! more on this later) I booked our return flight on Phil's birthday. Not just any birthday either, but the big 4-0! Yup, I did. How would I turn this into something better than terrible? I got him some nice gifts and incrementally dished them out (which he pretends to hate but I think he likes early gifts just as much as anyone - as long as there are still gifts left on the actual day!). I asked my friend, Alisha (and her able helpers: Bayley, Kendal, and Trey) to decorate our house and leave a cake so that when we got home at 10pm there would be a ready-made birthday waiting. This could be saved, right?
I gave Alisha the key, the balloons and streamers, the cake mix and frosting, and the "4-0" candles. The day we left I made sure to unlock the storm door in the front. I was pretty excited that this was going to be a fun surprise for Phil (and save my reputation).
Wednesday, July 23, arrived and I received a phone message that basically went like this:
the storm doors are both locked. Is there another way in?
We can't really decorate without getting in and
we can't get in because the storm doors are locked."
I admitted to Phil that I was defeated and a failure at adequately celebrating his big day. We laughed. Then it happened...
Our flight was delayed. There was no way we'd make our connecting flight. After several hours in the Rochester Airport we were given the assurance that we would be on a 6am direct flight to Atlanta. We were given a voucher for a night at the Holiday Inn (actually a very nice room!) and 4 $5 food vouchers*. As luck would have it, our luggage was able to make its way to Detroit and then Atlanta, unlike us. Therefore, we didn't have any of our clothing, toiletries, scriptures**, or the like. Therefore, Phil spent the evening of his birthday washing clothes in the sink and then drying them with an iron***.
Thursday we awoke at 4am (ah, 5 hours of blissful sleep) to catch our 6am flight. Imagine our frustration when we were informed that we had not been booked (actually Phil had, I hadn't) after all. Oh, and by the way, there are no open flights out today. Did I mention that we were trying to get back so that Phil could meet with the Oncologist and have a chemo treatment? Yeah. So after some tense moments (in which I got a little cranky - not yelling, just cranky - with an airline employee) we were sent to another airline. They got us on a flight to Detroit and then on to Atlanta. We missed the doctor stuff (still trying to figure all that out because it isn't a good thing to be off schedule). Eden was AWESOME (I'll do another post about all the cute things she did).
We're home now. Alisha and the kids decorated the door. There is a cake in the oven. Phil has opened his gifts. He gets a weekend without chemo (perhaps the best gift of all). The pressure is totally off for next year. I no longer have to live up to the perception that I am a great celebrator of birthdays. He'll probably be happy if I just don't book a flight on his big day.
Happy Birthday Phil - at least you got a poem from Char! :)
Phil's chocolate and PB cake (I used PB to "decorate" the cake - quick thinking I'd say).
Phil opening his presents (the ones that were still unopened on his b'day)
*these had to be used in the airport. We couldn't go over the $5 on any purchase (so we couldn't buy something for $5.23 and give them a voucher and a quarter) and there was no change back if we bought something for under $5. It is an interesting puzzle to figure out what to buy that will come closest to $5 without going over (it was like the Price is Right or something!).
**hooray for lds.org - we were still able to have scripture reading!
***Char and I learned this trick when our luggage was "lost" (we knew where it was the whole time, just the airline didn't) for several days on a trip to NYC.