When my sister walked into her own surprise party last week and 25 of her friends yelled, “Surprise!”, she cried. She wasn’t startled (ok, maybe she was a little startled by all of us standing there). She wasn’t sad. She was, as the greeting suggests, surprised. Mission accomplished. You’d think the story would be over. And I guess it could. But there’s more.
The party was on a Saturday night. And, like many nights this year, it was bitterly cold. In addition, we had some snow earlier in the day and the roads were sloppy to say the least. As I finished placing (really expensive) cupcakes in just the right order on their stand, I also waited anxiously for the cancellation texts to start chiming. I was sure that one after another would say, “Sorry, but I have to cancel. The roads are just too icy.” But as I revealed in my opening, that did not happen. Instead, every person who said they were coming did. And not one of them complained about the roads or left early. In fact, just the opposite happened. So when my sister opened the front door, we were all there…ready to celebrate her.
Later that evening when most people were gone, I asked my sister if she was really surprised. Indeed, she was. But her surprise did not lie solely in the celebration (she suspected that I would plan something on a smaller scale). For her, the amazement was that all these people actually showed up to celebrate HER; that she was the reason for them putting busy lives on hold. She was surprised to be special to them.
My sister’s reaction to her party made an impression on me. All week, I’ve been thinking about how I make the people I love feel important … or how I don’t. Sure, life gets busy and I don’t have the free time I’d like to enjoy. Little emergencies (and sometimes big ones) rear their head at the most inopportune times. I am stretched with work and family and obligations. I get all that. But at the end of the day, do the people I love know that they are important to me? Do they know for sure that I’d show up?
Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” I don’t think he meant just to celebrate birthdays. I think he meant all the time – when the roads are messy, when the temperatures are freezing, maybe even when you simply don’t feel like it. Just show up. And when you do, look around. You may just come to appreciate everyone else who’s there in a whole new light.