JP's 30th birthday is coming up this month. He's generally not interested in making any sort of a deal about his birthday. He never wants a party, never asks for gifts, and is happy to just let the day slip by unnoticed.
I am the opposite, and would love to throw him a big party and celebrate the big 3-0. That probably will not happen, but I still wanted to do something for him this year.
So with the help of some of his family, I got him a very special gift.
When JP was growing up, his paternal grandparents lived in a cabin home on a lake in Brainerd. He has thousands of fond memories of making the trip to Papa & Nana's house, spending the days swimming and exploring, then packing all of the cousins like sardines to sleep on the porch at night. (From what I remember, it was a 2 bedroom house in which they would cram Papa, Nana, their 6 kids + 4 spouses and 8 grandkids).
Outside of this memory-filled home hung a sign that read "Charles of the Woods," which is the literal translation of our last name (Charlebois) from French. JP remembers watching out the car window as they pulled down the narrow street, and cheering when they saw the sign because it meant they had arrived.
JP has always wanted that old sign, but it has been lost or misplaced for years. So, for his birthday, I commissioned a replica. All I had for the wood carver to work from was an old, small photo Nana found. You may have to squint to see it.
The artist I found works out of his home in Rogers. He did a beautiful job. Here is the finished product.
The artist paid attention to what details he could pick up from the photo, mimicking the jagged edges and even finding a piece of wood with a knot on it next to the "of the" on the bottom part.
I was so excited and planned to give it to JP as a surprise on his birthday. I brought it home and hid it where I knew he would never look -- the storage area under the steps. He never goes back there because it hurts his back. He always asks me to retrieve whatever it is he may need.
That night he came home and wanted to get one of our baby gates out from under there for the puppy. I was stressed out and busy at the moment, so in order to not stress me out further, he decided to go look for it himself. Aaaaaaaand, you guessed it. He found the sign the same day I brought it home!
He came upstairs and timidly told me he had accidentally found it, and I immediately burst into tears. I was so excited to make it a surprise, and I really wanted to see the look on his face when he saw it for the first time. I was so disappointed!
The good news is that he LOVED it and was so excited about it. He said it was the best gift anyone has ever given him.
I'm proud of JP and proud of the family whose name we carry. Maybe someday our grandchildren will cheer when they pull up our street and see "Charles of the Woods."