Spoiling the Surprise

I have spent some time this week sorting through old posts and notes I’ve written over the past year before I had a blog.  I wrote this post February 14, 2010, and although it’s a little out of date – it seems rather apropos considering some of the gifts from our 10 kids that found their way underneath our Christmas tree this year!  I am constantly reminded to appreciate and love our kids’ giving hearts and generosity, even though the gifts and modes of delivery may be a little unique!  I indeed have much to learn from the least of these.

Earlier this week, a box was delivered to our front door. It was addressed to me, from someone I didn’t know in Circle MT. It had no postage, was a rather large box but very lightweight. It sat on the kitchen floor for one day, and I became more and more curious about the contents of the box. It was clearly marked “Do not open until Valentine’s Day”. Perhaps it was that directive that made me even more curious…

Later that same afternoon, Lillia and Olesya told me about a curious phone call they had received the night before. Apparently John was in the bathroom, and they answered the phone. The caller was the same person who had given me that mysterious box. The girls said he had explained that he was in the process of moving, and that no thanks were necessary for the gift – that he didn’t wish for me to contact him.

That got me even more curious, and honestly, a little uneasy. That evening, with kids tucked into bed, I opened the box. I had a strange feeling about its contents, and couldn’t wait until Valentine’s Day. Inside the box was a small heart-shaped box of chocolates. The plastic wrap had been removed from the box, but all 3 original chocolates were still in the box. The opened box of chocolates had been taped shut with scotch tape.

At this point my curiosity turned to concern. An unknown sender who had requested no contact. An opened box of chocolates, taped together. Was someone upset with our family over our new children from Haiti? Was this somehow meant for bad? Unsure what to think, I threw away the box of chocolates without a second thought. Attempting to keep them out of sight of my children the next morning, I buried them in the full kitchen garbage bag. Chalking this up to a strange event, I intended to chat with John about it the next morning.

However, before I could bring up the box of chocolates the next morning, Lillia quickly asked me first thing, “Did you like your surprise, Mom?!” Confused, I asked her whatever she was talking about. “You know – the box of chocolates! The surprise in the box you opened!” Guiltily, I looked down at the opened, and now empty, “Do not open until Valentine’s Day” box still sitting in the kitchen. “Oh – that! Well, it had a box of chocolates in it, but I threw them away…” I mumbled, not wanting to draw much attention to the weird situation. “Why?! Why did you throw them away?!”

Not wanting to lose a teaching opportunity, I explained to Lillia (and now all the gathering children), that the box contained some opened candy, and came from someone I didn’t know. I shared that the candies were probably fine, but it isn’t smart to take candy, particularly OPENED candy, from someone you didn’t know, and so to be safe – I threw them away…

Glancing up, hoping my wonderful, motherly example had impressed my impressionable children, I noticed Lillia’s crestfallen face. “Mom – those candies – they were from ME! I wanted to surprise you!”

The box, the mysterious phone call, even the familiar handwriting – they all made sense in a split second. My daughter, eager to do something special and secretive for her mom, had planned the entire thing….buying the candy, wrapping it up, “delivering” it with a fake return address, sharing about a phone call so I wouldn’t attempt to follow up with this mysterious sender…and I had botched it!

In an attempt to redeem myself, I did retrieve the garbage bag, opened it, dug through it, and eventually found the still-taped-together box of chocolates which I subsequently ate (and enjoyed!).

It’s always an adventure…