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The party that wasn't, and the one that will be - Jason Smith

I have what I consider to be a rather significant birthday approaching.

I'll be turning 35 the week of Thanksgiving. For months, I've been telling my wife I wanted to have a party of some kind, to celebrate this milestone with my family and friends.

In my mind, this party was going to be a huge bash, in which I would invite everyone I could think of. I am blessed to have a lot of people in my life who I care about very deeply, and I wanted to share this occasion with them.

My birthday always falls so closely to a major holiday, so planning a party is not normally feasible because few people are able to attend. However, I still wanted my party, and I was told I'd get to have one.

As the time for my birthday drew nearer, I became more and more excited, because I knew I'd get to see friends I hadn't seen in a while, including many who had never met each other. I couldn't wait.

Then, I got the news I had halfway expected, but had been dreading nonetheless. I was told the party would probably not happen, because the money to put together such an event was just not there. I was severely bummed.

I continued to be in what I described as a "funk" this past weekend, because I wasn't going to get my way. In all honesty, I know I was acting quite immaturely about the whole thing.

As far as those funks are concerned, when I get into one, I don't hide it well, and I can be very difficult to live with. This was certainly the case as it relates to the party, but I didn't want to tell my wife why I was in a bad mood. I was being a jerk and, deep down, I knew it.

When my wife asked me what was wrong -- after several minutes of pouting silence -- I finally told her why I was upset. It sounded so stupid, even as the words escaped my lips.

Then, she asked me something I wasn't expecting. She said, "Do you like surprises?"

As it turns out, my wife had been planning a birthday celebration all along and hadn't told me. The party would probably not be quite as big as I might have originally envisioned, but I would get to have one after all.

She was going to let it be a surprise, but she knew I'd likely remain in my self-imposed funk until then, which would make the days long for both of us. My actions forced my wife into a situation where she felt she had no choice but to tell me about the party.

On the one hand, I was so excited. On the other, though, I felt even worse, because I had been so immature. I'm turning 35, but I had acted like a spoiled child.

Still, my wife told me she understood why I had been upset, because she knew how much I had wanted a big celebration.

In the days since my wife and I had our discussion, I've been doing a lot of thinking. I've come to realize, all over again, that the reason I was in a funk about the party is because I chose to be. I wanted the rest of the world to feel sorry for me, and if that wasn't going to happen, I was going to make everyone suffer.

As a result, I nearly ruined a very sweet thing my wife is doing for me. I don't want to be that person.

Now, I'm excited about what my wife has planned for me, even if it isn't on as grand a scale as I might have wanted, at first. For one thing, I will get to spend time with people I love in celebration of the big 3-5.

But, on this birthday, I will be celebrating something more than just another candle on my cake. I will be celebrating in gratitude for someone who is willing to throw a party, even if the person it is for, does not deserve it.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.