For the third time we set a date for everyone to get together for Christmas.
On Christmas Day Rachel's family ended up staying home in Madison because Arianna had become ill. Our poor little three-year-old granddaughter had a fever and spent the day with a bucket nearby. It was not a fun Christmas for the Giblins.
The rest of our family came to our house on Christmas Day, but there was a big hole in our celebration. Arianna and Eli and their enthusiasm for everything were greatly missed - Rachel and David were also missed, but they are not quite as cute as their children.
Since kids bounce back from illness quickly, we set up a second date. Christmas on Sunnybook Farm would be Saturday, Dec. 29. Russell and Cynthia didn't plan on coming because they would see the Giblin family in Madison.
Food had been bought for our second feast, but I never took it out of the freezer. Snow arrived and started accumulating. Rachel, David and the twins left Madison not suspecting that the further north they went driving conditions would change for the worse.
Rob, Ethan, and Seth were giving it a shot, too. They only had a one-and-a-half hour drive to get here. Rob figured if he took it easy, he might arrive in two hours.
Within five minutes of his departure, Rob called. "We're turning around," he said. "I hardly left home and was driving slowly when I slid and almost hit a truck."
By this time, Rachel and her family were up to Beaver Dam. I called and told them to turn around. No use risking lives on slippery roads. The second party was canceled, so we set up a third. That date, Jan. 13, would include Christmas and Bob's 70th birthday party so everyone was coming.
Looking at the weather for that weekend varied from day to day. First it was good, and then bad, and then good again. When the day came it was cold, but the roads were clear. Also, everyone seemed healthy.
The lunch I planned was going to be finger food, munchies, not the ham and lasagna meal we had on Christmas. I thought this would have been easier, but was mistaken.
Rebecca and Rachel took over the kitchen and managed to get the multiple-pan meal moving. I wasn't much help, except for giving them the frozen food that needed heating.
Before lunch, I saw our children with their heads together whispering. I suspected that something was up for their dad's birthday.
Later, Rob asked for a bed sheet-for sure something was up. They had to have gotten him something that couldn't be wrapped. A pony? Nah. I was being silly.
Bob didn't have a clue anything was happening. Everyone was singing Happy Birthday and Bob just sat there, not looking around. Just to his left was a large sheet-covered box.
"Happy Birthday, Dad!"
Bob just smiled.
"You have to unwrap it," Rob encouraged his father. "Pull the sheet off."
Finally, Bob got the idea and tugged off the cloth. His children and their spouses had gotten him a new TV. Surprise!
We had been considering buying a television, but didn't know what kind to get. There were too many choices.
For help with this decision, we first talked to Rebecca and Andy. (I never noticed them giving each other panicked looks, but they must have felt panicked. Getting the TV for their dad was already in the works.)
"It's better to wait until just before the Super Bowl. TVs go on sale then," said Andy.
"You could also email Russ and ask him what brand he'd recommend. He was just researching TVs for himself."
The secret was saved and Bob and I didn't randomly buy a television. We'd get more information from our son, the engineer, first. Russ said he'd bring a list to the party - a list we never got.
Our old set was moved and the new one set up - which was also part of the gift. Bob and I would never have been able to figure it out alone.
The rest of the day was spent munching, seeing Arianna and Eli excitedly rip open packages, and watching football on Bob's gift. A super day, with a super family. Happy Birthday, Bob.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.