What was I up to?
Creating "59 Years of Memories" for my dad for his 59th Birthday.
Don't worry, I'm not genius enough to come up with anything quite as unique as this on my own. I stole it from Pinterest.
Shocker, I know.
I wanted to think of something to do for dad's birthday back at the end of February I believe.
If you know him, you can back me up in saying he is an incredible man. He really is. There is no one like him. I love him dearly and as I've grown up and understood him and his parenting style better, I love him even more.
He doesn't care much for material possessions though.
A pack of socks.
Some bubble gum.
Even a homemade dessert will satisfy his gift cravings for holidays.
I, on the other hand, LOVE gifts. I put lots of care and time and attention into finding that perfect something.
I wanted to do something this year that he truly appreciated.
That meant a lot to him.
I was stumped.
I began to think about his love language (dad always tried to love each of us kids in our own unique love language. He studied us to find out which one we had and then he practiced loving us in that way.) which I believe is words of affirmation.
Yes, I could write a mushy card (I generally do every year) declaring what an awesome dad he is/was.
He would treasure that, I know.
But, I wanted more!
Then, I remembered something on Pinterest.
I found it, asked my mom and grandmother what they thought, and got busy stalking his Facebook friends list and emailing almost every.single.friend.
I was busy.
He has over 330.
This is what I sent to them and I think I might have copied the majority word for word:
If you're receiving this email, you probably know that our dad, Van Chambers, is turning 59 in April (much as he would hate us to be reminding everyone, I'm sure.) To celebrate his birthday, we'd like to put together a little surprise to let him know that his nearest and dearest are thinking of him. We're going to try and create "59 Years of Memories" by filling 59 envelopes with a memory his friends and family have of him.
And this is where you come in!
If you have a spare moment in the next few days and weeks, we would be so grateful if you'd jot down a favorite memory you have of our dad and put it in the post. It doesn't have to be anything fancy -- you can just write it down on a piece of paper and sign your name or even respond to this email and we will transfer it to paper with your name. You can mention anything you like -- although the more nostalgic the better! Please absolutely feel free to send more than one memory (in fact, we welcome it -- we've got 59 envelopes to fill!), but make sure you write them on different pieces of paper (and sign your name to each) so we can split them up.
Thank you so, so, so much for participating -- we know everyone is busy with their own lives, and we do appreciate you taking a few minutes to do this; it will be so worth it when he reads all the memories people have of him! (Please don't forget to keep it a surprise until then, though!)
Thank you so much again.
--Jonathan, Abby, and Amanda
Please mail all letters to:
42 East Boxwood Drive
Cartersville, GA 30121
Each letter or email that came in would bring tears to my eyes.
It proved what I already believed to be true--- that my dad was loving, kind, generous, self-less, godly, patient, kind, amazing, and humble.
Through the years, one thing is for sure, my dad has shown kindness to everyone he has come in contact with, he has gone out of his way to be a father-figure in children's lives who have no dad, he is super silly and loves to make people laugh, he has met needs, he has been a prayer partner and a Christian example, he has been sincere and genuine in his concern and love, and so much more!
I will cherish these letters I have telling me more about my dad and reminding me that yes, he is the greatest man to ever live.
I had many folks email me saying they wanted to send something and would later on in the week, closer to the day, etc.
When I realized people probably forgot, I sent out a reminder email.
Closer to the day, when we were still short, I used email and vagueness to beg again ;-)
Acting like a dog worked (begging!) because we got our needed number!
Then, I had to get the present ready.
I didn't know how to package the letters.
I searched for cool envelopes to no avail and decided to use plain ole security envelopes.
That just seemed so normal though.
Boo for me who doesn't like normal!
The day before his party, the boys and I went to Hobby Lobby to search for something unique.
I found a photo box-- they had many styles, but a plain brown one stood out to me because I know my dad doesn't mind plain and it is more manly. That seemed perfect. I knew he would want to keep each letter and this would make the perfect box to do so.
I found some brown ribbon to use on top so it wasn't quite so blah.
I kept with the brown theme and wrote on the top of the box with a brown sharpie: Happy 59th Birthday, Dad! Love, Jonathan, Abby, and Amanda.
I numbered each envelope so if he got them mixed up, he would remember which number he was on. Also, so I could keep easier count of what I had.
We wanted to give you something unique this year. We decided to try and create “59 Years of Memories”. In each envelope, you will find a letter from family or someone from your lifetime. We hope each one is a brief ticket to another time, a leap backwards over years and decades into the past. We always knew you were amazing, one-of-a-kind, generous, selfless, and loving…. Now we have all the proof. You made a lot of memories these past 59 years. We hope you enjoy reliving some of them!
We love you dearly and we are honored to call you, “Dad”.
-Jonathan, Abby, and Amanda
He opened it up, read this, and immediately got teary eyed.
He read each one, many with both laughs and tears involved. It was fun to pass the letters around the room and let everyone else read them.
Many things he had forgotten so he would bust out laughing and then give us his version.
Sometimes, everyone was laughing so hard there were tears involved! LOL.
All in all, I think it turned out better than I expected. I didn't even know if I would get 59 letters (I ended up with 61!) because everyone is so busy and consumed with daily life. Taking the time to do that can seem ridiculous or time consuming.
I am beyond GRATEFUL for each person who did take the time to send me something.
It made his birthday unforgettable and I know he will cherish these letters forever.
I will as well :-)