My wife was coming up on a special birthday and it was up to me to plan activities that would make the day memorable. But it’s always a challenge to do something that is as good as your desire to do something big. The best things in life happen naturally and unscheduled. When you plan it, it becomes a project.
My first thoughts about making it a grand day centered around what she’d like to do, cost, and other constraints, such as, “What to do with my kids?”
You realize that some of the wildest things, like jumping out of an airplane, no longer seem possible once you’re no longer a naïve and over-confident teenager or young adult. You also realize you can’t just go off on a 10-day run to an exotic location when you have two young kids. And you also realize that some things that you would want to do have already been done by that person.
But it turns out the things that I kept coming back to do, in my mind, involved the outdoors. I thought going sailing around New York City would be cool. So, after much deliberation and research, I purchased two seats with a sailboat company. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. It rained on most of her birthday.
Plan B was called into action.
We went to three different museums and saw some cool exhibits and explored the cultural side of our lives that we both cherish. We then enjoyed a nice dinner at a well-known, high-end restaurant.
She was a good trooper about turning 40 in the rain. We rescheduled the sail-boating for another day, though I suppose you can’t reschedule a birthday.
Maybe we have it all wrong about how we live our lives. Instead of making a few days out of the year special, just because the calendar says they should be, we should look to make our ordinary days a little more special. Some may even turn out to be spectacular. Randomness trumps planning when it comes to having fun.
Then again, a little planning goes a long way.
I went to buy her a cake, to be served the day before her birthday. The kids wanted to help celebrate her birthday so we decorated the house in a way only a five and eight-year-old would (I had to talk my son out of using smoke bombs) and we prepared a perfectly imperfect celebration. But when I went to buy a nice cake, I found our local bakery lacking. I then went to a cute cupcake place, but they were closed. I went to our supermarket, but their cakes are too big and too unspectacular.
We went in a different direction. We bought Entenmanns’s mini-donuts and struggled to stick a 4-0 candle into two of them. She loved it, but I suppose better planning would have yielded the right cake.
On the day of her birthday, I wanted to get flowers, ones that I thought she would love. I couldn’t go to the supermarket counter. I needed a florist. I searched my iPhone for nearby ones and it turned out a bunch that came up were delivery services. But I wanted to go on site and pick something nice out.
The one that was closest to me happened to be closed for some unknown reason. The paper clock sign on the door indicated they’d be back in 40 minutes. But I couldn’t wait. So I called an order into an online vendor and had them deliver hydrangea in a vase. But she wouldn’t get to see them until the end of the day, when we returned from our city day-trip.
The funny thing about big birthdays is I can’t fully remember where I was or what I did when I turned 18, 21, 30, or 40. What did I do on New Year’s Eve 15 years ago – or this past year?
It’s not that I didn’t have fun with people important to me, nor is it that I just have a bad memory, but it all seems like a blur. The things that mean the most to me are things I try to repeat – going to the beach, watching a baseball game, seeing a movie, reading a book, eating a good meal, inhaling chocolate, going to the dog run, fooling around with my kids, going to a comedy show, and all the things that make life feel good and substantial.
Planning a great day has its pitfalls and rewards. I want to make a greater effort to infuse the “special” into the ordinary day and maybe out of those days will come the fireworks of life.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013
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