Friday, November 14, 2014

An emotional birthday surprise

*Photo courtesy of Alvin Valera

"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves." - Edna Buchanan

Every year since 2007 I celebrate my birthday with two wonderful friends, Karen and Beth, over dinner and we end up chatting the night away. I've met them in an online forum in 2006 and we've been close friends since then. They are my soul sisters and we share stories about parenting, mothering and coping with living in Singapore. This year though, it was quite tough to pick a date that was convenient for all of us. Recently, Beth has been busy with her business travels, I have been swamped with parent volunteer events, and Karen was the one trying in vain to book a date for my birthday gathering. 

It was only the 25th of October that we seemed to have free schedules. Unfortunately, Beth had another trip scheduled so we had to hope and pray that she made it back in time for the dinner.

Karen said it was just going to be an intimate dinner with our families. She would be cooking simple dishes and the children would just be playing while the adults talked. I sent her messages closer to the date asking if Beth's schedule would then allow her to be there with us for the dinner but she said Beth would still be in Thailand or KL on that day. I was saddened to think that this year we won't be complete on my birthday but I understood that our friend would want to be with us if only she could. I guess at that point I have already accepted the fact that it was going to be only the two of the three soul sisters that would be celebrating.

On the day of the dinner, Karen reminded me that we should dress up because she has planned a pictorial for all of us, sort of a pre-Christmas photo shoot for the family. I chose to wear the dress that another close friend, Mydie, gave me as a present for my birthday. I thought the color matched the event - birthday and pre-Christmas - with the red and green motif. I asked the boys to wear red or green shirts to match my dress so that we would be color coordinated. 

I was excited as we walked to Karen's home from the lift lobby but also felt a bit empty because Beth won't be able to join us. We noticed that the blinds were shut and the light was off at Karen's home. We actually thought we were on the wrong floor because the flower pots have also been moved. I knocked on the door and was greeted with a smile by Karen, then she went back in after opening the gate. All of a sudden, the lights were turned on, Albert was playing a birthday piece on the piano, and Beth and Piety and Karen were singing a birthday song while Karen carried a tray of home-made red velvet cupcakes with candles. I was shocked to see Beth and Piety (her daughter) because I was informed they won't be able to make it that night. I couldn't believe I didn't have an inkling about this surprise. They got me really good and they have brought me to tears - tears of joy. I welcomed the well-missed hugs and kisses from them.

Alvin took photos as I was ushered into their home which was decorated with my name and initials, several pictures of me, and even a photo booth - all done by Karen. She also prepared all the sumptuous food on the table - pasta, tuna patties, mushroom with bacon, salad - accompanied by sparkling drink brought by Beth.

We had a lovely evening catching up. We shared a good laugh. We missed each other. With their busy schedule they both made time for this birthday surprise to be a success and it was. I am so grateful for these two women. I am blessed to have them as the first few friends I had living in Singapore. They are my family in this home away from home and they have always made me feel special and loved.

To my two loving and thoughtful soul sisters, Karen and Beth, thank you so much for this wonderful birthday surprise. I don't know how you are going to top it off next year ;) Hopefully, we can push through with our EPL trip then.

Here were some of the photos during that special night (*Photos courtesy of Alvin Valera)
Just the three of us...

With our families....


More photos of the personalized decor taken using my phone:


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