Have you ever been surprised buy something in a good way so much that you cherish each second that passed as it unfolded before your eyes? I have, and I also know that experiences like this are hard to pull together and execute effectively. I’m really hard to surprise. I have a innocent way of putting pieces together when something is going on. I sometimes can pick up on the little things when I’m not supposed to, and then I end up soiling the surprise for myself.
Then on the other side of things, let someone try to leave intentional clues or hints to something that I should be able to figure out, and I’m usually late to the game. I totally miss my cue and mess things up.
When I do figure things out, I have a tendency to get really mad at myself and disappointed. I have a difficult time hiding my feelings when I feel like I do something dumb. This is then taken by others that I’m not happy with whatever is happening. Which is most times the furthest thing from the truth.
So when these seasons of the year come around when surprises may take place I somehow subliminally ignore things so I don’t mess things up. This is usually when Chrissy tries to communicate something with subtle hints, and I totally miss it. Then I’m in trouble, rightly so.
One last thing before I get into this story, I don’t know why but for some reason, birthdays are hard for me. I get a little moody and depressed. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I’m getting older, which is stupid, we all get older. Then it also maybe the time that I allow myself to look back on the past too much. I try to live in positivity, but it’s easy to slip into the negative areas of life and start to focus on what you have failed at or disappointments you have had. With all that said, it’s hard to surprise me, especially around my birthday.
Now, this was not the case on this occasion few years back. I had been given a surprise that will forever stay as one of the best birthday surprises I have ever had. Chrissy would be the first to tell you that I like to dance. I may not be the best at, it but hey, as long as you’re having fun, do it, and you’re not hurting anyone, right? (I try not to step on toes).
So, on this particular year, Chrissy told me that we were going somewhere for my birthday and told me I needed to wear clothes I could move in, but look nice, and I had to have shoes with leather soles. I was then told not to question anything. She ended by assuring me that I would have a great time.
As the day of our mysterious date approached, I remember having a hard time finding the right shoes, but everything else was easy. And, eventually, I did find some shoes.
I remember the day as if it was yesterday. It was a Sunday afternoon, and there was a knock on the door; it was one of our babysitters. She said, “Hi, I’m all set to watch the kids!” At this point it seemed like everyone knew what was going to take place, but me.
Chrissy came out to the living room dressed very pretty, but that’s nothing hard for her. She took a deep breath and said, “Ok, you ready to go?
I said, “Where we going?
“No questions! I have directions, you just need to drive.”
So, as we left the house my mind was racing about where we could possibly be going. As we passed certain land marks, I crossed off ideas that I had formed in my head.
She had me go to an area that I had never been before. As I drove, there were all these huge pole barn like buildings. Itlooked like an industrial warehouse area. She gave me directions from her piece of paper, turn up here on the right. If I said the I wasn’t excited, I would be lying. If I said I wasn’t a bit fearful of what was to come, it would be a lie too. You know how your stomach gets tight right before you do something that is exciting and scary all together? Well, that was me.
Chrissy shouted, “Here! Turn here!”
It was a huge building with a big stone parking lot, only a few cars in the lot.
I asked, “Are you sure this is where we are going?
She said, “I think so.”
Then she glanced at the building and looked back at me with a sparkle in her eye and a nervous smile.
She said, “Yep, this is it. We may be a little early, so let’s wait until we see someone else go in.”
This is customary for Chrissy, especially when we are doing something new or she is unsure of where we should be.
We sat in the car and waited for what seem like forever. Finally, cars stared to pour in, and people went in the door on the side of the building. We got out and made our way to the building that’s when Chrissy looked at me and took another deep breath and nervously said, You better know that I love you, and you better like this! Happy birthday!
I asked, “What is it?” as we entered a door that said something about a club. We went through the door and rounded a corner. The entrance opened up into huge hall with a wooden floor and a stage. There were tables and chairs surrounding the polished floor. I looked at her and said, “What is this? And what are we doing?”
“Surprise!”she said with a smile.
All in one breath with her words running together she said, “We’re going to learn how to swing dance. Oh gosh, what was I thinking? This was such a dumb idea!”
Chrissy has never enjoyed dancing; she has always found an excuse not to dance. She will stand and sway to the music, and if I am lucky, I can get her to slow dance with me. On our wedding day, I think if her Nanny wouldn’t have given her something for her nerves, we would have never made it through the reception. So, for her to even attempt to learn how to dance was huge. Just thinking about this gift she gave me chokes me up.
I grew up dancing with my mom and every once in a while, if there was a good song playing on the oldies station Dad would grab mom’s hand, and they would cut the rug together. Of course, I would cut in and try to learn whatever it was that they were doing. The twist, mash potato, jitterbug, the stroll, just to name a few. Our dance floor was most commonly in the kitchen. Like I said dancing was something I loved, but for Chrissy it was not. She would rather do something else, anything else. So, when I say this was a huge thing, it’s really not an exaggeration at all.
I grabbed her hand, pulled her in close, and said, Thank you, but you don’t have to do this.”
The truth was that I was a bit nervous too. Being a person with dyslexia, I find that following instructions about left and right can be a bit of a challenge; one that still haunts me from childhood to this day.
She looked me in the eyes and said, “Oh we’re doing this.”
Just then a call from the floor came. We were told to get into a circle with our partner facing us. So we would have a big circle, then a smaller circle inside the big one.
We were welcomed, and given an outline for the night. We were told this was an introductory class to swing dance. Then followed with some basic instructions. Honestly, I don’t remember most of what was said. What I do remember is Chrissy looking at me saying, “I can’t do this!” And with every new move, she would giggle and the giggles turned into anxious laughs. We were having fun and getting comfortable with what we were learning, when all of a sudden, we heard the words “Switch! Outside move to the left. The panic and anxiety on Chrissys face was like someone told her she had to get naked.
She looked at me and said, “No way!”Then she was somewhat pushed to another partner. This kept happening, we were slowly making our way around the circle. With each new partner, our eyes would meet, and she would silently mouth the words “HELP ME!”
Chrissy was about 6 people away and the next time the instructor said to switch, she quickly ran over to me, and politely said to the person next in line, “He’s my partner,please just skip us. She kept this up though out the rest of the evening, in spite of the instructor’s side comments and dirty looks. I believe she even said out loud once or twice while looking at me, “I payed to learn to dance with you, not someone else.”
Overall, we had a great time and even agreed to perhaps learn more. This was a very special time for me,, and I don’t ever want to forget the love and sacrifice Chrissy made to make this night awesome for me.
I did order us some VHS tapes on swing dancing to learn in the privacy of our own home at our own pace, but after receiving the tapes somehow they disappeared. I still wonder to this day what really happened to them. I do recall finding the second tape somewhere unusual, but the first tape never resurfaced.
In our kitchen today, you will see a sign that Chrissy picked up. It says “In this kitchen we dance,” and since that time we do. I believe we have more spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen now that we have grandbabies and daughters-in-love.
We dance unashamedly as David did before the Lord. We dance in celebration of the blessings the Lord has given us.