I will have to admit that I have not had very many surprises in my life. Ranging from Christmas to Birthdays the majority of the time I knew what gifts to expect and as in my adult life I have even purchased my own gifts on the behalf of family members!
Being a deal hound I can't stand the thought of paying too much for something. Probably something instilled in me from a very young age. Christmas and my Birthday were so close that my Father would often combine the two which meant waiting till after Christmas to get a bigger gift for half off instead of smaller gifts at regular price. So growing up it was always cash was king in our family as Christmas presents. So other than a few small things I was given cash to spend post Christmas when I could get more for my money. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this but the most obvious disadvantage is the surprise factor or rather the lack of it. But by waiting I always got what I wanted and more because the money went further.
Flash forward to my married life where my wife for some reason doesn't seem to ever know what to get me (I like RC Planes/Helicopters and Kites - any will do) so I make it simple on her by buying my own gifts at the best price and then tell her it is for "insert holiday here". She hates this so much that it has been a point of contention in our marriage thus far. Last year for Valentines we tried something different and she picked out a surprise gift and I must say although not something I was expecting it was a very nice furniture grade Watch Box to keep my small collection of watches in and on display instead of just my sock drawer. I enjoyed the little experiment and the surprise but I still needed some kind of bigger surprise to make up for all those years of always knowing. That opportunity presented itself in several big ways last year.
The first big surprise was how quickly God blessed us in our attempts to conceive. With both of us being in our mid thirties, Shannon and I had imagined several months of trying. This thought became even greater when we found out at the start of our attempts that I would unexpectedly have to attend an out of state training session for 6 weeks. But fortunately, after just one month of trying and on the day before I was due to leave for my trip we found out that Shannon was pregnant - a wonderful surprise and relief for both of us. That surprise really helped me get through 6 weeks of being away from my wife and also help strengthened our marriage while we were apart when the distance would have taken a toll on some.
The second surprise and the greatest of my adult life was deciding to wait till our baby was born to know the gender. As impatient as I am, I was determined to have one major surprise in my life and this was the perfect opportunity and thankfully Shannon agreed with my decision. For me I had no doubt about the fact that I didn't want to know but then after about 2 weeks of making the decision I got worried that I may have forced Shannon into it. I realized I sort of just stated the fact that we would not find out the gender till the baby would be born but I never really asked for any deep thoughts or concerns about it from Shannon. So I addressed the issue again with her and she assured me that she too didn't want to know. I realized that waiting till you actually have your baby to determine the gender is a thing of the past and very few people do it but to us it was very important to NOT know. I can't even put into words how it actually really felt to know all at the same moment that my wife was OK, my baby was OK, and that I was the father of a baby girl. The feelings of each thing just compounded upon itself exponentially. To hear "it's a girl" come out of the Doctor's mouth and to have the feelings I did was just beyond belief. It was so pure and so wonderful. We both enjoyed it so much that I am pretty sure that although impractical that we would once again wait till find out the gender should we chose to have another child.
The last big surprise was just how hard being a parent really is. It is nothing like what they say in books or training seminars. With Olivia being such a "high needs" baby, she really has just brought out so much in us that we both didn't even know we had. I have now seen my wife blossom into the most wonderful mother, full of strength and tenderness and myself love another person so wholeheartedly. I will have to openly admit that Shannon has really felt the lion share of the struggles with raising our child. She was the one at home the most during those fist months, the one who always got up in the middle of the night to feed Olivia or soother her. I really was shielded from a lot of the bigger struggles of caring for a new born because she so willing and actively took on those chores as loving mother. I could not have been blessed with a better wife and mother for my child.
So all these surprises combined have really made for a wonderful year and have made up quite a bit for what I have been lacking all my life in the surprise department.