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Do you like being surprised? How about surprising others?

I had a big surprise planned this past week but someone spoiled it, and I’m going to share how I (mis)handled it…

It all started in August when after nearly twenty years of emotional rehabilitation toward canines, I was finally open to getting a family dog. When I floated the idea past my son, he cried “happy tears.” My daughter loved the idea, too.

So my wife and I figured it’d be a blast to surprise the kids. We made arrangements to choose a puppy on Saturday (Dec.19) and agreed to tell the kids just moments before.

Skip to early Thursday morning (Dec. 17) when my wife returns home after dropping the kids off at school. She tells me she must confess something.

I wonder if I did something wrong? I double check the list and feel confident I’ve been nice over naughty.

She proceeds to explain that she spoke to her mother a couple days ago. She explains she told my mother-in-law about our Saturday puppy trip but didn’t relay it’s a secret. She tells me that my mother-in-law talked to the kids about our plans on Saturday.

My wife tells me that my mother-in-law quickly realized the mistake because the kids were beyond excited and surprised. She tells me my mother-in-law made them promise to forget.

Uh, what? It’s not like they’re robots and you can delete files from their CPUs.

My wife tells me she’s sorry. She claims to be the worst wife in the world.

I tell myself she isn’t. I tell her I’m surprised because we’ve been planning this for months. I say I’m disappointed. I tell her my head hurts. My neck hurts. (Yes, apparently I’m a drama king.)

My wife says, “I’m literally a pain in your neck!”

I tell myself that I love her. I tell her that I love her. I tell her I’m just sad we didn’t get to surprise them. I mean that I’m sad I didn’t get to surprise them. What I don’t tell her is that I’m frickin’ angry.

Then my wife leaves the room. I fume. I wonder how my wife couldn’t have gone just two more days before telling anyone.

Suddenly, I wonder if my wife’s a memory thief because she’s stolen a memory from my brain.

You see, I’d already created the memory of telling my kids. I could remember them receiving the news. I saw my boy getting misty eyed again. I imagined my daughter doing a puppy dance.

So I’m still sitting there and I begin to feel like a selfish fool for having these thoughts. Why was this moment so damn important to me? I wasn’t entitled to witnessing my kids react to the news. Plus, was the surprise for me? Or was it for the kids?

Because my kids still got to enjoy the surprise. Their faces still got to shine bright after learning about a new puppy. It’s just that my mother-in-law got to absorb their surprised reactions.

Next, I bargained. I sold myself on how our family would create countless memories with our new puppy. I told myself our future memories would far outweigh the loss of one memory that never belonged to me.

Now my wife walks back into the room. She starts opening mail next to me. I know she just wants be near me to see if things are okay.

I fill her in on what’s been happening inside my malfunctioning brain. I tell her about the raging cerebrum misfires. I tell her about the guilt. The bargaining. Then I call her a memory thief to her face.

She tells me she loves me. She says she’s sorry again.

I explain there’s still repair work going on inside my dome but I’m getting over it.

She’s just opened an envelope and grasps what looks like a check.

I ask her what it is.

She shows me the annual Costco rewards of $84.77. Then she offers it to me.

I accuse her of trying to pay me off.

She laughs with guilt because she knows she’s literally trying to pay me off.

I joke that she does owe me, but eighty-five bucks won’t cover it. I tell myself that this day is not in her favor, but I know most days are. I tell her that I love her.

This past Saturday (Dec. 19) we went to choose our new puppy. During the process, the kids proclaimed they wanted to choose TWO puppies. My wife told me afterward that she kind of wanted to get a second puppy, too. I’m thankful and surprised she didn’t tell the kids about this desire.

Yesterday, the wifey, kids and I agreed the puppy’s name would be Kilo. We’ll welcome him into our family in a couple weeks. I’m also fairly certain that Kilo will bring many more surprises into our home. I just hope I can handle them. Good or bad.

I’m also hoping I don’t mishandle any surprises that come my way today and tomorrow. I’m hoping I can remember that surprises aren’t exclusively for the giver or the recipient.

I don’t want to act like a selfish fool again because it’s not all about me. I’m also really hoping that family and friends recognize it’s not all about them.

I pray we can unite in that hope and recognition regardless of any expectations we may have.

Merry Christmas.

Image courtesy of U.P.images /

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