Margaret's birthday is April 14. Back in February of this year she told me that she had never had a surprise birthday party. I decided that her 60th birthday would be an ideal time for her first surprise party!
The first challenge was how to organize this without her realizing what was going on. After all, we not only live together, we also work together. Normally that's one of the blessings of our being in the same ministry. It's a major problem though for something like this. I needed someone who was sneaky and devious to help plan and coordinate this project without Margaret finding out.
My first choice for the job was Sharon Orshaw, our Pastor's wife. She was not sure if my asking her was a compliment or not. She did like the idea, though, and agreed to take on the job. She in turn enlisted two more gals from church to help her — Sharon Daniels and Sharon Cahall. These three did a great job of organizing all of the details for the surprise party. We kept in touch with email and IM (instant messaging). We chose 3:00 PM, Saturday, April 12, in the church fellowship hall, to have the party.
I began inviting folks to attend via a Windows Live Event website (setup so Margaret could not access it) plus a church emailing sent out by our church secretary, Marnie. Folks without email were invited by phone or in person. Obviously, we could not put this in the church bulletin!
It worked! The party was this Saturday and Margaret had no clue what was coming. I had told her not to make any plans for that afternoon because we were going out for her birthday. She jumped to the conclusion that we were going out to eat. After we got into the car, I told her we needed to first stop at the church because the Pastor had something to give us. (Thanks Marnie for coming up with that idea!)
The fellowship hall at the church is downstairs. I parked in front of the church, so she couldn't see the church parking lot, and went in the front door. (I found out later that a number of folks had parked elsewhere so she wouldn't see their cars in the lot.) She finally got suspicious when we got to the top of the stairway to the fellowship hall. She could hear the voices of a lot of folks downstairs. She looked at me and said, "You didn't?!".
Everyone there shouted "SURPRISE!" when we opened the door to the hall. What followed was one emotional high after another as Margaret recognized unexpected out-of-town friends and family one at a time. She was so excited and surprised she actually walked right past our daughter and two grandsons the first time without even noticing them. It was great. A number of folks remarked that it was the first time they had ever known Margaret to be at a loss for words.
Margaret finally realized daughter Sheri, and grandsons Jonathan and Patrick Sean were here from Virginia
left to right: Chaplain Tom Kramer; Chaplain Don Jaggers; and his wife Carol
Charlotte , Margaret, and Kenzel
Pastor Kevin Wall from Chesapeake City, MD, back left, and Sharon Orshaw way back in the kitchen
(that's the ribbon on a balloon in front of Margaret's face)
Lorraine, Thelma, Janice, and Tootsie - ladies from our church
very dear friends, Gordon and Edwina, who came all the way from western PA
Jessica with baby Danny, Pastor Kevin Wall and wife Dawn
front, left to right: Chaplain David Weaver, Linda Kramer, and husband Chaplain Tom Kramer
daughter Sheri is standing behind Margaret
(Chaplain Ron Jones was also there but didn't make it into any of my pictures)
Margaret with the three Sharons, left to right: Sharon Orshaw, Sharon Daniels, and Sharon Cahall
They are showing Margaret the birthday cake made by Sharon Cahall
The Pooh cake. Half of the cake is lemon, for Margaret, the other half is chocolate, for the rest of us
Pastor Dan Orshaw, and his wife Sharon, and their granddaughter, Emelyn
Margaret posing for pictures with her cake
Of course the kids were first in line for cake and ice cream!
A Pooh piñata filled with candy.
You don't hit this one with a bat to break it open. Instead you pull the ribbons on the bottom, one at a time.
Only one of the ribbons opens the bottom to let the candy spill out.
Margaret and the kids took turns pulling out a ribbon until the right one was pulled
That's our grandson, Patrick Sean, on the left
The last activity at the church was Margaret opening presents. I think the kids were as excited as she was.
Notice the country girl without shoes — can't take her anywhere!
Some of the folks had time to come to our house and visit after the party.
(including Charlotte, on the left, and Patty, on the right)
Patty worked with Margaret and me years ago in ministry in Virginia. She now lives in NJ.
Sheri and her two sons spent the night at our house.
We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, the Wagon Wheel, Sunday morning and
then they had to get back to VA for Sheri's father-in-law's birthday party.
(Patrick Sean is hiding)
The last birthday weekend activity was lunch at the TA in Elkton, MD. with Chaplain David Weaver, Chaplain Tom and Linda Kramer, Gordon and Edwina, and driver Greg. Margaret and I drove to the TA after attending church in Smyrna to meet up with the others. We had a great time of fellowship there. No pictures though...I didn't have the camera with me.
You can watch a Flickr slide show of all of the pictures here.
In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins