A Brighter Day

Excerpt From Jane's World

It’s National Surprise Week. Your mission is to go ahead and surprise someone.

Webster’s dictionary describes the word surprise as “an unexpected gift, party, etc.; the feeling caused by something that is unexpected or unusual.”

I grew up in a family that thrived on surprising each other—practical jokes if you will. Garter snakes in coffee cans. Crayfish in the plastic swimming pool. A cupcake on your dinner chair. Throwing a cup of cold water over the shower curtain. Rubber-banding the handle on the kitchen sink hand-sprayer in the open position. Spraying someone with the outdoor hose when they were sleeping in the hammock. Every one of these surprises led to payback time—and, as they say, paybacks are hell! The Schmidt house was anything but quiet.

My daughter still tells the story of when she was a teen and out on a first date. I paced the apartment that evening, watching the clock and waiting for her to come home. When I finally saw her date’s car pull up outside our building, I decided to hide in the gigantic walk-in closet near the door, where we stored our coats and shoes. Jessica walked in, opened the closet door, and I said, “Hi!” She screamed and nearly punched me in the face. Luckily she had lousy aim and her fist barely hit my shoulder. But when Jessica screamed, I also screamed—which made my bladder leak, which made us start laughing, which made us double over, which had us laughing on the floor of our walk-in closet. This story comes up a lot: “Remember the time you hid in the closet, Mom, and I punched you?”

But today I’m not talking about those kinds of surprises. If I were, there would most likely be hell to pay and crabby letters to follow. I’m talking about surprising someone with something pleasantly unexpected, unusual, or random. I dislike the bumper sticker that says “Practice random acts of kindness”—I like the concept but not the commercialism of it. So why am I encouraging you to surprise someone?

While I love being surprised, I love surprising people even more. I enjoy watching for opportunities to do something for someone else that will make them smile. How about an unexpected phone call? I hear people saying, “He or she never calls me.” Call them! Easy to do, and the person you call will be delighted.

* Read the rest of the story in this week Crawford County Independent and Kickapoo Scout. Or wait for the next book.

Originally Published May 11th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout