For over a year I tried to decide on something special for my dad's 70th birthday. Do I buy a fancy gift? Do I throw a party? Do I make a scrapbook? In some ways he's easy to buy for. I know his style pretty well, and usually if I like something - he likes it, too. But he has everything he needs and more. So no regular old gift would do. I knew that a party would be difficult to pull off given his birthday falls in August which is quite possibly the busiest month of my life every year. And since his retirement a few years ago, Daddy's just as likely on any given day to be in Chattanooga, Tennessee as he is in DeLand, Florida. So no party. Seeing as how I never had finished the scrapbook from his 60th birthday party, I didn't think it would be appropriate to start a new one. So no scrapbook.
If you know Bill, you know that he has a plethora of friends. Friends all over the country. Hundreds of friends. He's met many people over his years in TV, and he rarely loses touch with the people he likes. The one thing that all these friends have in common is the fact that they all have a story or two (or 10 or 12) about the time they spent with my dad. I love that he has always been the funny one, the sarcastic one, the practical joker, and the most memorable one in any group. So I decided that there were probably lots of folks out there who would love to wish Daddy a happy birthday, and there were probably lots of folks he would enjoy hearing from on his big day. So I created this two-sided card to mail to over a hundred friends and family members. The bottom portion of the card is actually a detachable stamped and addressed postcard that could be used for writing a little note or birthday wish to my dad. I encouraged recipients to share their favorite Bill story, and I gave them a suggested timeframe for mailing the postcard.
Daddy and Gail were on vacation in Hawaii the weeks prior to his birthday, so my hope was that his mailbox would be full of greetings when he returned. And boy, was it! He was very surprised, and he loved reading all the cards he got. In fact, he had so many cards, I decided to make a little book for him to keep them in.
My favorite postcards were the ones from the grandchildren. Like this one from sweet Sissy:
The stories and memories shared on the cards were great fun. He heard from friends he hadn't talked with in years. I loved that he enjoyed it so much.
PJ, Bobbie Jo, and I wanted to see Daddy and Gail on his birthday, but we weren't sure if they would be in Florida or Tennessee, so we couldn't plan very far in advance. Once we figured out where they would be, we arranged with my brother, Matt, and his wife, Shannon, to meet up in Chattanooga and surprise Daddy with a weekend visit. We just donned our celebratory tutus and party hats, and rang the doorbell. He was shocked, to say the least.
It was a great weekend with delicious cake (to match the cards) and visiting with special friends and family.
So I managed to pull it off. I'm pretty sure it was a fun birthday for him, and I had a great time putting it all together. Oh, and I even finished that scrapbook from his 60th birthday! I wrapped it up, and gave it to him as his gift. Thankfully, we all look just as good 10 years later.
Happy Birthday, sweet Daddy. I love you.