I (we) have been working on the Great Surprise for a while and it finally came to fruition last night.
A couple of weeks ago Laura talked to me about a big purchase she would like to make. Our friends were selling their dining room table, chairs, and hutch and Laura really wanted to buy them. Ours were ok but most certainly acquisitions made during a different period in our lives.
We got the table at the Salvation Army in Bozeman 15 years ago. It was ok but it was starting to show some age - it was probably at least 15 years old when we purchased it. The chairs were purchased at a garage sale about the same time. They were ok too but not that well made and the joints were really loosening up. We had already lost one during a dinner party in Bozeman. Steve Bodio was telling a story that required lots of hand gestures (pretty much any story for Steve!) and all of a sudden he disappeared from the end of the table - the chair had come apart underneath him! I was noticing I thought of that event pretty much every time I sat at the table these days. The hutch had no current match but Laura has wanted one for a long time.
So, shortly after Laura asked me about purchasing the set I called Tami and told her that we would like to purchase the set but also asked her if she would tell Laura that they decided not to sell it. Tami was a willing partner in crime but struggled with being able to tell Laura that they had decided not to sell it because she knew how disappointed Laura would be. She pulled it off quite convincingly though. My next conversation with Laura was her telling me that she wasn't going to get the dining room set after all. I knew that she was disappointed but she understood the reasoning that Tami had given her.
Fast forward to this Wednesday. I was in Lewistown for meetings and Laura was taking the boys to Billings, 4.5 hours away, to do some shopping and get out of town for a few days. I was meeting her there on Friday because I had another meeting and we were going to return on Friday evening. Tami, her husband Kelly, son Zach, and a crew of young men met my Mom (yes she was in on it too) at our house and they removed the old table and chairs and put the new set in the dining room. Laura just happened to call the house at that time to check messages and Mom answered the phone not expecting it to be Laura. She stumbled through a rather lame excuse as to why she was at the house while Tami headed out the door so she wouldn't accidentally be heard talking to the boys. Whatever excuse Mom used (she can't even remember now) worked and Laura still didn't suspect anything. Tami gave me a call and let me know that part of my plan was complete. She even added a nice touch while talking to Laura on Thursday and told here she was making a flower arrangement for a friend who had recently gotten some new furniture.
Friday afternoon we headed home from Billings. As we got close to Fort Peck I told Laura I really had to go to the bathroom so I needed to run in the house right away. I also asked her to bring the new orchid (yes another one) into the house and put it on the table right away so it was out of the way. I ran into the house, turned on all the lights, grabbed my video camera, and waited in the kitchen. Laura soon came in the house, around the corner, and my plan worked just like I had imagined it would. Complete surprise!
The set looks great in our house- including the flower arrangement from Tami - and of course Laura really likes it. We have finally graduated from the grad school furniture!
I owe a big thanks to my partners in crime who helped me pull this off - Tami and Kelly Burke, Zach and his friends, plus my Mom.
The new stuff.