Well. That was something.

I had a birthday this week. It’s OK if you feel you missed it, because I typically celebrate a week or so. My family says it’s “or so.” And because I typically plan my own party, usually a surprise party, this quarantine business was not cooperating with my typical celebration.

I have been beyond blessed-I’ve planned trips and the Good to Go Group Travel gang has celebrated my April 29th birthday in South Africa, in Switzerland, and in Italy, to name only a few. 50 in North Dakota was my age then, not my 50th state. Yes, I’m very blessed to have had birthdays all over the world, but this year the Good to Go Girl celebrated in… her driveway. A first.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been my usual peppy Patti self these weeks. No travel, no entertaining gigs, no speaking engagements, you know, I’m “unessential”. I could care less about the birthday year number (59, if you’re wondering) but the huge, sudden change in my busy life-that has done quite a number on me.

Niece Jena Beth and the Much Older Sister knew I needed a dose of my own medicine and planned a surprise birthday party parade. They arranged for me to be given laughter and joy by the car loads. Our driveway and yard were decorated with balloons and a giant birthday sign. I had an empty suitcase (curious?) and the neighbors started to gather. I heard it before I saw it. Here comes the Grove Fire Chief and the big, beautiful ladder fire engine. Dang! This IS a parade!

And here they came, people I love from all the corners of my crazy life, in their cars and trucks decorated with balloons and garlands and flowers. Many stopped with cards or something fun to go in that empty suitcase that didn’t stay that way long. Who knew Grove had so many convertibles? And even though the wind was a gale, the music blared, and the queenly waves and wishes made my heart soar.

Social distancing was respected, even with live musical performances from Broadway show tunes (thank you Ron Young) to country hits with complete sound systems (thank you Susie Niehus) to original rewrites (thank you George Fracek). The choreography that accompanied was brilliant. I was moved to happy and thankful tears.

Toilet paper rolls with tiny treasures tucked in the tubes were tossed for me to gather. Candy, (good stuff) was thrown out just like the Christmas parade. One car sported a jolly fellow that looked a lot like Santa Claus but this Santa dropped off wine! Cars, trucks, SUV’s, a military vehicle, a stroller with the cutest baby ever and that one rather plain woman. Oh wait, that was Bob Carlson sporting the dress he put on to surprise me on a girls’ only trip. (And he can still fit in it after quarantine!) What a lovely surprise and effort. Not to be outdone, Superman and Wonder Woman also made a pass by.

A couple of the vehicles even had their own masks over their front grills and David Adzigian/Patti Demier handed their gift to me on a 6’ pole! So caution was not thrown to the wind, even if some the decorations were.

I heard another familiar horn and I looked up to see… a motor coach. Yep, there’s our favorite driver/pastor Donnie making his way down Sunset Circle in a coach with his two darling grand-girls and a hound dog. Homemade cards and signs are all over my quarantined living room, waiting to be sprayed with sanitizer. And I can’t say “thank you” enough about the greeting cards that came my way. As the queen of repurpose and reuse-I was amazed and moved at how my clever friends could edit Get Well cards and cross out lines in used Christmas cards to make them PERFECT for my birthday! Price was NO object, I loved it!

The worst part of the day? I couldn’t hug everyone and show them how much it meant to me.

The best part of the day? All the laughs and memories we will have now for birthday 2020.

Once again, I have been blessed. I was in the driveway instead of out on the road, but I’ll remember my birthday party parade and all the fun it delivered.

Thank you to everyone that gifted me with joy and laughter. The best birthday present ever.

Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or pb@goodtogowithpb.com.