Monday, 26 March 2012

70 Years of Memories

Recently we celebrated my Dad's 70th Birthday and I wanted to do something a bit special.  I knew that my Dad didn't really want anything or need anything present wise for his birthday....but I couldn't let this event go by without something.  

Mum had taken him away for a few days for his actually birthday and had a trip for a Legends Tour around Manchester United's Old Trafford planned....I know you're now either cheering or groaning depending where your heart lies!

I knew my Dad would be perfectly happy with just having Mum, his two daughters, two sons in law and two grandchildren there to share the time with him but still I wanted to mark the occasion with something more.  Now my Dad is a retired Geography / History teacher and working with the history theme I was thinking of something along the lines of "This is your life".

After playing around with a few ideas and doing a bit of research I came across Holly Burns at who had also wanted to surprise her Dad (who is a bit younger than my Dad) with a fun and special birthday treat and I decided to adapt her wonderful idea.

So at the beginning of this year I wrote out to everyone I could think of (or had contact details for) and explained that I wanted to try and collect 70 memories of my Dad and then present them to him for his birthday.  Then it was a case of sitting back and waiting...and waiting...until bingo I got an email from one of his old teacher colleagues and I thought "excellent, we're on our way now, one down 69 to go"!!

Although my sister and I thought we could quite easily come up with 70 memories between us, that wasn't the name of the game...although for a little while I thought it might have to be the case but after email and letter after letter arrived right up to and way beyond the deadline I'd set....some were short, some long, some with photos, some funny, some poignant, some I knew about or could remember, some which were new news to me or from before I was born.

Now even though my Dad is 70, he doesn't look 70 and he doesn't act 70 (whatever acting 70 looks like!) but collecting 70 memories of him was very fact so was collecting 80 memories.....and 90 memories....and well over 100 memories!!

I didn't want to leave out any of these fabulous memories so I worked at grouping like memories together...for example my sister and I both had memories of Dad mistaking Mum's bikini bottoms for his Speedos when we were on holiday in France in the late 1980s and not realising until he was in the campsite swimming pool......or two of his sisters remembering him reading his comic during the church service when he was a choir boy.....or his teacher colleagues reminiscing about school trips he'd organised to France.

I then put the memories into 7 piles of 10 memories and checked and recounted.....and checked and recounted again....and then got Mr A to check and count them as well... just to be sure before I started putting them into numbered envelopes.

Ta da!  This is the finished gift....70 envelopes containing 70 memories (OK over 100 memories)....some memories were so big that they needed an big envelope to match!

I also wrapped up a big album so that Dad could put all the memories in the album after he's opened the envelopes and be able to flick through and read them more easily from then on.  That's quite a stack of envelopes to open!

I didn't tell my Mum about this either so she was able to enjoy the surprise.  I'm pleased to say that Dad absolutely loved took a couple of sittings with a meal in between to get through opening all the envelopes and reading all the memories....lots of laughs and a few watery eyes as well....I'd definitely recommend doing something similar if you have a "big birthday" of a loved one approaching.

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