"We're going to give Mama a new family photo as a birthday and Christmas gift. We've arranged to have pictures taken on November 17. It's to be a surprise. There's only one thing you need to do - take Mama shopping for a new dress."
Heidi and I have been married for almost 11 1/2 years, and in that time we have never had photos taken of us and our family by a professional photographer. In fact, we haven't had a family picture taken in the past two years. Heidi has been telling me we should get a family picture taken again on more than one occasion in the past few months so a family photo-shoot was a very timely idea.
Getting Heidi to agree to spend a significant amount of money on clothes was going to be tricky..Heidi needs new clothes. She has lost more than 80 lbs since the beginning of February and her clothes are all much too big. She has been sitting at her sewing machine quite often, taking in her clothes so they didn't look like sacks on her. She is very reluctant to spend money on new clothes because she's still losing weight and as she says, her body is going to continue to change shape.
How I was going to get her cooperation in completing my assignment? My solution? I picked a date (first weekend of November) and told her I was going to take her shopping to buy her a new dress as a birthday gift. (Her birthday is early in December). Heidi agreed - she even told our girls about it. I figured all was set.
Somewhere in there I also told Heidi that we were going out on November 17th and she shouldn't book anything else that day. Heidi wanted to know where we were going and I told her she'd find out on November 17.
I thought the secret plans were safe but it didn't take long for the conspiracy to be in danger of being exposed. On the first weekend of October we, along with my son Neil and daughter Lora, went to my youngest brother's home to celebrate my nephew's 4th birthday. Afterward, we had all our kids to come to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. We gave Neil a ride and when we got out of the car Neil turned to me and said, "I thought we're getting pictures taken today?"
Heidi, who had gone ahead of us a bit overheard me shush Neil and asked, "What are you whispering about?"
Heidi persisted. "What's going on?"
I told her that I had to address something with Neil that she didn't need to concern herself about. The questions stopped but I knew Heidi' suspicions had been raised. When Heidi was out of earshot I told Neil that the family picture was supposed to be a surprise and reminded him of the correct date.
The day to go dress shopping came closer and Heidi repeatedly said she didn't need a new dress. Then on the day I had planned to take her shopping an urgent matter came up and the shopping never happened. Several days later we got a call from friends who invited us to their home on November 17. I had to remind Heidi that we already had plans for that day.
When I raised the subject of dress shopping again I got the same result. When my daughter called to give me the details of time and place I told her that Heidi was uncooperative as far as dress shopping was concerned.
Two days before the pictures were to be taken my daughter called back and suggested that the girls take Heidi out shopping.
When Heidi got home from work I told her the girls were taking her shopping the next evening, and it was not optional. A new dress was purchased, but now Heidi really began to raise questions. "Where are we going?" "Are we getting a family picture done?" "Why are we getting dressed up to go out on a Saturday afternoon?" "Are we going to meet the kids somewhere?" "We must be getting pictures done - I thought I heard Neil say something about pictures." I was as evasive as I possibly could be, deflecting the questions as best I could be. Heidi had even tried worming the story out while on the shopping trip, but the secret stayed safe.
The surprise worked. Heidi had no idea what was happening until we walked around the corner of a building at the University of Manitoba and she saw the kids. The secret was revealed!
We had a wonderful, fun afternoon with the kids and we got some great pictures!