Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Best Present

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!
After weeks of hearing Husband giggle gleefully about his present for me, I wasn't completely surprised when I opened the door last Tuesday afternoon to find a cheerful birthday balloon. Seeing my stuffed Thumper holding a note below the balloon didn't come as a huge surprise either, but it was exciting. Oh boy, another birthday scavenger hunt
Thumper's note began: "Happy Birthday, Jennifer! Didn't we just do this last year?"
Clutching Thumper in one arm, I scampered around the house, following clues and discovering little gifts along the way.
"Happy Socks"!
A new mini-Boo!
When I got up to the computer room, this year's hunt had a new twist:
This note said there was something on the computer for me to see, but Husband would have to pull it up...
Luckily, after all the craziness of the unexpected birthday celebrations my students threw me and a surprise trip for ice cream with my mom, I'd gotten home from school late enough that I only had to wait about a half hour. Still, I was practically bouncing with excitement by the time Husband finally opened the correct program on the computer.

A birthday video? What could it be?

From my friends?!

"Happy Birthday, Jennifer." A familiar, cheery New Zealand accent bubbled out of the speakers. Renee made me a video?! My thoughts drifted back to childhood birthdays from second grade onward, when the phone would ring at 3 or 4 a.m. with a special call from my pen pal's family, who inevitably miscalculated the time difference every year.

Before my brain could completely process what was happening, the screen shifted to my best childhood friend, smiling outside in sunny North Carolina. By the time Christina stopped talking, tears were running down my cheeks.

Now Renee was back, showing pictures of New Zealand artwork and flowers in her house. So cool!

A little closer to home, Laura was sitting under a digital banner of birthday balloons on her webcam, explaining how much she'd learned from observing my classroom this year and how glad she was that we'd gotten to know each other.

The familiar strains of "Buckeye Battle Cry" blared in the background as Renee cheered, reminding me how excited she'd been to learn about OSU football and the marching band when she visited me, and how proud she'd been when I made the band while she was staying with us.

From Seattle, Megan's sharp wit left me convulsing with hysterical laughter. My friend since 6th grade and my roommate for two years, she held up a picture of us in our dorm room, proudly posed beside the towering pile of trash neither one of us wanted to take out. What silly freshmen we were! I'd forgotten about that picture!

Gleefully holding up a bunch of bananas, Renee brought back memories of the language differences we've discovered over the years. Apparently, they only use "a bunch" for bananas in NZ -- she laughs at me every time I use it as a synonym for "a lot"!

On the other coast, Ben peered into the screen with birthday greetings from Washington, D.C. He and his wife can't wait to tell stories about the trip to Spain that I helped them plan.

Just in case I didn't get the message with the bananas, Renee declared that she hoped I had "bunches of fun" on my 30th birthday and sent "bunches" of love from New Zealand!

Finally close to home again, my sweet rookie Becca gushed about how much she looked up to me when I was her squad leader and how grateful she is that we've since become like sisters.

I buried my face in Husband's shoulder. The best presents don't come in boxes. The best presents don't have price tags. The best presents are filled with love.


  1. You are loved by many. What a special birthday you had! I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again, your husband is a keeper.

  2. This is such a lovely (and loving) surprise, Jennifer. Happy birthday, just a bit late!

  3. What an exciting evening! You traveled around the world a bit with those birthday greetings. What a wonderful present your husband created with a little help from your friends.

  4. I love the birthday treasure hunt idea. Do you remember when we had those for your birthday parties for you and your friends when you were in elementary school. I love the birthday video idea- love is worth more than diamonds or gold, and I am so happy that you have so much love in your life. Love you more than grains of sand on a beach, and so does your dear, sweet husband, and that is what that makes life precious. Love, Mommy

  5. Jennifer I just stumbled across your blog! This is AMAZING! I can really feel the love your husband, family and friends have for you in this post. I am so happy you had a great birthday and wonderful people to celebrate with. Happy belated birthday!! :)


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