When my parents left a few weeks ago, Alison started, for lack of another word, getting ready to leave China. Wedding planning was harder than anticipated, her principal was once again being cheap (refusing to pay her for her extra work!), and her classes in school were changing in age-inappropriate ways...and all that added up to a general feeling of blah-ness. So, I decided to give her yet another surprise: with the help of her family and friends, Janice serving the role as Best Transport Ever, I organized a scavenger hunt, with each clue corresponding to a card or small gift from America.
I planted the seed with the rules and the first clue which she opened at work...and a beautifully decorated apartment to welcome her when we came home (she ate the food on the plate on the right before I could snap a picture of it...she's fast as lightning when she wants to be).
At this stage, Alison had no idea about the international aspect of the scavenger hunt. Here she is after finding the first clue, realizing that Jackie, a bff from Charlotte who moved to NYC, was the person wishing her a happy birthday:
She still didn't quite get the magnitude of the transcontinental surprise and reacted really strongly to receiving a note from NYC/Prague bff Jen:("OH MY GOD. HOW DID THIS GET HERE?") Then she figured it out and became happy as a clam. Of course, it helped to receive a really funny baby costume (McDonald's Freedom Fries) from Karen, Charlotte/NYC bff,beautiful hand-knitted socks and party gifts from former NYC roomie/bff Liz,
(you can see them on top of the Karen's baby costume!), and one of our favorite pre-China couple pics (taken at the Ancona wedding) via our bff Mr. Bernstein,So much love from our friends! To keep up the momentum, the scavenger hunt shifted to family--her current and her future. My parents combined with my sister and brother-in-law to send marked-up bridal magazines
and an enormous card.
Yes, Alison is awesome. She then found a card from her Aunt Lynn and Uncle Mike (my favorite clue--hidden under Shout anti-stain cleaner--was "I can't wait to get 'a little bit louder now' at our wedding. Yea, I rock.).
Poor Kevin, Alison's brother, decided to mail a card directly to Beijing. As I said in his clue, we will provide a forwarding address to get it, hopefully before our wedding. The thought was what counts, however, and here you can see her response from reading the IOU I wrote on behalf of my future brother-in-law:Oh, China. Next on the docket was a card from my brother Blake and his gf Victoria, next year's captain of the Harvard Women's Swim and Dive Team (Go Crimson!). He wrote "happy birthday" in Chinese on the outside of the card:
and she made a 3D card on the inside! Note how Alison's wide-mouthed look of surprise gets even greater upon opening the card. ;) The last clue resulted in Alison finding a sweet letter from her parents and a mini-book of pictures and messages from her dog, Lucy, via Alison's mom. Alison died laughing as soon as she opened it:
In the book, Lucy was practicing to walk Alison down the aisle as a bridesmaid (wearing Sandy's actual veil!):
visiting Kevin to cheer on the Tar Heels:
and getting a little drunk off margaritas at Alison's bday party:
Afterwards, we celebrated by having a minipicnic in our living room, enjoying imported wine and local mochi.
THANK YOU to everyone who helped out for the scavenger hunt surprise...as well as for the phone calls/messages she's received today. It makes spending her 26th birthday in her new home feel as close and special as if she were in her old (and future) home.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALISON!!! I LOVE YOU.