Turning Fifty at Our Little House

Dale's picture cake

My mom used to say, “The only alternative to getting older is dying young and no one wants to do that.”

Dale marked a milestone birthday this weekend, turning 50. Once upon a time we were naïve young 15 & 18 year olds with our whole lives ahead of us and in a flash, it seems, we’ve grown to ages we thought then to be ancient.

Dale thought the weekend would pass quietly, relaxing at Our Little House, enjoying some of this wonderful late winter thaw we’re getting now.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Dale at 50

I thought before this weekend that the biggest inconvenience of having Our Little House is not being able to entertain more than another couple at once. When I first thought of throwing Dale a surprise birthday party, I was wishing I could hold it at our house as I did his 30th.

Since many of our friends would have to drive from Kansas City, I planned it in Branson, saving them more drive time.

Dale’s favorite BBQ place in Branson is Famous Dave’s and they were very accommodating. (I know, readers, no going vegetarian this past weekend!) I called and emailed a few close friends and many were eager to get away for the weekend, so I checked with the fabulous Branson Hilton Convention Center, within walking distance of the Branson Landing where Famous Dave’s is located, and got a group rate.

It was a killer keeping the secret from Dale for over a month and I was more than anxiety ridden when snow started to pile up first in the Springfield-Branson areas and then here at Our Little House last week.

By the end of the week, I knew the spring warm up would allow the trip for everyone, including us. The next trick was coming up with a lie so Dale couldn’t say no to the trip (I told him I was talking to some folks about writing gigs there).

Do you know the scene from the movie from “Christmas Vacation” where Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) sees Cousin Eddy and says, “Eddy!!??” when he couldn’t believe his cousin-in-law was actually standing on his lawn?

That was the look on Dale’s face when he saw 10 of our friends and his sister and brother in law sitting at a restaurant 5 hours from where he thought they should be.

It was truly a priceless moment, especially since Dale is no easy customer to surprise.

After dinner, which included presents and a cake that had a photo of him at about 15 on it, we reassembled the party in the bar at the Hilton. I was ready for that sunken tub by the time we all went to our separate suites!

Everyone was happy to get out of the city for a weekend and do a little shopping and relaxing in Branson before the party. We also came home not just thankful for our wonderful friends, but energized from a weekend away.

Just goes to show that even what can be perceived as a negative – having too small of a space for entertaining – can be turned into another opportunity to Live Large!

Have you ever planned a surprise party for someone? How did you keep the secret? Did anyone spill the beans on you? If you have a small space, how do you work around it to entertain?

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14 Responses

  1. mat says:

    There was an article on NPR yesterday about a couple who were getting married and the groom (a comic artist) chronicled their pre-wedding adventures in a comic series. His wife made the comment that he draws her as she looked when they first met (8 years earlier)…and it occurred to me that I see my wife the same way. Sure, she’s got a streak of white in her hair now–and she dresses differently–but I’d swear she looks the same, 13 years later.
    Do you see your spouse the same way?

    Found the article: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/15/133688373/cartoonist-pokes-fun-at-planning-his-own-wedding

    • kerri says:

      Hm, that’s an interesting question, Mat. I don’t know that I see him as I did when we first met. That was sooo long ago and he was so very different (He was better looking at 18 than he was at 15 in that photo above), he was much thinner and didn’t have a beard. I think I see him though, as he was when we first married. I don’t look at him and see the gray in the beard. While it bothers him a lot, I don’t give it a second thought. I’ll have to ask him how he sees me!? 🙂 Or, maybe I don’t want to know. 😉

      • mat says:

        I think you take a snapshot in your mind of someone and that’s just how it stays until something jars you out of that perception. My 3-year-old son has grown a ton since birth (I’ve heard they tend to do that), but sometimes I have to pinch myself to not see that tiny, helpless little thing that needed to be burped.

        • kerri says:

          I know that happens with everyone to some degree. When Emma disappeared last year, we looked at recent photos of her compared to ones that were taken when we moved here. She had aged considerably, although we didn’t see it without the comparison photos. I also see that in my little dogs now, both of whom have a lot of gray on their muzzles.

  2. NoPotCooking says:

    Oh Kerri this sounds like it was just so much fun! Keeping that secret had to have been hard, but it was worth it.

  3. It’s very hard to pull off a surprise when you live with the person you’re trying to surprise. Congratulations. And I’m a big fan of having someone else, like restaurant personnel, cleaning up the mess.

    • kerri says:

      We think a lot alike, Heather. It was nice to just enjoy everyone instead of running around making sure everyone had what they needed.

  4. Alexandra says:

    Happy birthday to Dale! I love stories like this, when the person throwing the party does manage to keep it secret.

    • kerri says:

      Thanks, Sandy! It was the first time I’ve ever been able to surprise him. He has an annoying habit of knowing his gifts, etc. but this time, he had not a clue!

  5. What fun, Kerri! That is so cool that you were able to make it a total surprise for Dale! And think how much easier it was for you to relax in that setting, than if you’d been responsible for throwing a bash at home. When we entertain at home, I am usually frustrated at how I get caught up in being a hostess, and don’t end up having much time to just relax and socialize with guests. It sounds like a wonderful weekend and a welcome break from winter! Happy birthday to Dale!

    • kerri says:

      You’re so right, Kathleen! It was so nice for someone to be asking me if everything was alright, were we comfortable, etc. and no clean up, just paid the bill and got up and left the dishes to someone else! 😉

  6. Allie Johnson says:

    What a great surprise! I love it.

    • kerri says:

      It was a lot of fun, Allie, especially when he said he didn’t have even a hint something was going down.