Saturday, 9 January 2010

Surprise, surprise?

I must admit I haven't worked very hard this week. Well, you have to go out in the snow, don't you? (I found this sausage dog!) And then there's lots of catching up to do with blogs and such. I didn't even manage to do that thoroughly, as I spent far too much time browsing through photos of wonderful vintage stuff on Flickr. When I saw a beautiful old box of 1950s Christmas crackers, I wondered if the owner had looked at the toys inside. It suddenly came back to me how I used to do that as a child.

I used to enjoy laying the table for Christmas dinner, because we had serviettes (they're always called paper napkins nowadays, aren't they?) and crackers. As an aside, I remember a period when I used to fold the serviettes into waterlilies - where on earth did I pick that up from? Anyway, at some point I discovered that I could ease open a cracker to check what was inside. The crepe paper and its foil overlay could be pushed back afterwards to hold it closed and no-one was any the wiser. With this new, god-like power, I could decide who got which toy! I could laugh in the face of the Cracker Fates, who might give me a racing car; I was going to get a fortune-telling fish, or a tangram puzzle at the very least. Everyone else got whatever I deemed appropriate. Or in the case of my brothers, what I thought they deserved. As it was Christmas, I would probably have had a fight with one of them before lunchtime, and he could be punished by giving him the cracker with the pouting red plastic lips.

Apart from feeling slightly embarrassed by my childish vindictiveness (well, kids are horrible, aren't they?), it made me wonder why I never regretted 'spoiling the surprise'. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like surprises very much. Maybe this is borne out by another childhood tradition - searching for Christmas presents. My brothers and I soon learnt my mum's hiding places (bottom of the wardrobe, back of the pantry), and would poke about for toys in the weeks before Christmas.

Of course, there are nice surprises. I had some lovely surprises from Mr Kitsch at Christmas, including the kitschy china animals above and the Moomin things at the bottom of this post. And a special surprise as Mr Kitsch had a go at embroidery, and created this wonderful picture of Moomintroll. I was staggered by how good his stitching is for a first attempt!!

I'm glad to say Mr Kitsch knows me well enough to get the right presents. He also knows me well enough to never spring a large surprise on me. A surprise holiday? It would freak me out. No time to plan or pack and no say over where to stay. I'd much rather plan a holiday together. A surprise party? Why? Does the surprise increase the fun? Probably only for the planners. A friend of mine was on the receiving end of a surprise party planned by her husband. She came home to find all the guests lying in wait in her living room. After the initial shock, all she could think about was "Did I clean the toilet?". The rest of the time she was worrying about not having tidied up.

Many years ago, Mr Kitsch planned a romantic surprise for me. We'd been living together for a few years and he decided a surprise 'date' would be exciting . He left me a postcard at home with instructions on when and where to meet. When I got home, I was tired and just wanted to put my feet up, and not in the right mood to discover a message on a mysterious postcard. I was also less than enthusiastic about catching a bus back into town. Obviously, I couldn't stand him up, but I felt a bit resentful at having to go out, and I felt really guilty about feeling so negative about his romantic gesture. So, by the time I arrived at our rendezvous, I was thoroughly grumpy and miserable. I think I burst into tears. Needless to say, he never tried anything like that again, poor man.

So yes, I've come to the conclusion that big surprises are not all they're cracked up to be. An unrequested gesture of love is a lovely thing - buying or making a present, suggesting a weekend away, making a meal or even a cup of tea, but the surprise is not the point. I'd rather have a meeting than an ambush.

8 comments:

Menopausal musing said...

Elaine, this was SUCH a funny post....... it made me laugh out loud. What I would have given to have known the art of opening crackers and then being able to close them again without anyone being any the wiser (said she who had two brothers). Plus, it would have meant that I could ALWAYS secure a fortune telling fish.............. those were just great weren't they? That man of yours knows how to handle embroidery doesn't he.......?

Menopausal musing said...

Awwwwwwwww, thanks for the "time zone" tip, I think (thanks to you) I have sorted it now....... I have always been in a world/time zone of my own............. sigh

Sal said...

My son is a massive Moomin fan.He used to always watch it before I took him to school,when it was on tv, early mornings..that's a few years ago now!
I'm now reading one of the books with a pupil...and loving it! ;-)
Sal ;-)

Busy Lizzie said...

Lovely post - I am with you on the surprise thing.. not nice! Posted a doll piccie on my blog which might make you smile (if you haven't seen it already..) Have a good week, Lizzie x

jaboopee said...

i'm totally with you on the surprise thing,my mister once tried to organise a surprise party for me and spent the day of my birthday being furtive and avoiding me! i got so annoyed, later it turned out he'd been trying to collect a cake...the same cake he said he'd wanted to smash into my face by the time the 'surprise' came along..... never again!

TK said...

I love Mr Kitsch's embroidery. I am now tempted to have a go myself.

It's not quite the same as a surprise but I really really hate getting an anonymous Valentine's card and then never finding out who it's from. It's only happened a few times but the initial pleasurable surprise at getting one soon fades into annoyance.

Leilani said...

I really hate surprises too... little treats are great but I'd dislike a party/vacation/mystery date. I'm definitely a planner and get nervous when I don't have control/am not informed of things!

Lovely gifts, it's great that he actually crafted something for you & that kitty is so adorable.

5ft Inf said...

I really loved your post...
I feel rather alone in admitting this but...er..I think I quite like surprises...I really like it when I have surprise visitors; it usually means great distraction for at least an hour, and if it's someone I'm not keen on, it makes for an animated anecdote on a wet and grey day wher no one pops in and I decide to become a surprise guest myself!
I've just finished reading that Moomin book tonight with my son! I've got all the others too...I think the blue-bound one is my favorite...
Anyway, anyway...lovely blog; thanks...
Philippa