Wednesday, July 25, 2012

70 years of memories

last month my dad turned 70 years old. he is already one of those people that is a challenge to find a gift for so i was *freaking out* trying to come up with a fantastic, memorable, creative and FUN idea. while browsing other blogs, i found a *brilliant* idea from nothing but bonfires that she had come up with to celebrate her dads 6oth. i quickly borrowed this fabulous idea, made a few changes of my own, enlisted the help of my little sister and we ran with it.

the hardest part was tracking down all of the emails we could (it may or may not have involved hacking into my dad's computer address book). once we had emails the next step was coming up what to say and then getting it out to as many people as possible. here is what we ended up with:

Hello everyone!

If you're receiving this email, you probably know that our dad, xxxxxxxx, is turning 70 next month. To celebrate his birthday on June 20th, we'd like to put together a little surprise to let him know that his nearest and dearest are thinking of him. We're going to try and create "70 Years of Memories" by filling 70 envelopes with a memory his friends and family have of him.
And this is where you come in! 

If you have a spare moment in the next few days, we would be so grateful if you'd jot down a favorite memory you have of our dad and email it or put it in the mail. It doesn't have to be anything fancy -- you can just write it down on a piece of paper and sign your name or send a quick email (we will take care of the formatting and print it out). You can mention anything you like -- although the more nostalgic the better! Please absolutely feel free to send more than one memory (in fact, we welcome it -- we've got 70 envelopes to fill)!

Please email your memories to: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
If you would like to mail memories please send them to: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thank you so, so, so much for participating -- we know everyone is busy with their own lives, and we do appreciate you taking a few minutes to do this; it will be so worth it when he reads all the memories people have of him! (Please don't forget to keep it a SURPRISE until then, though!) 

Thank you so much again. 

P.S. PLEASE help us by forwarding this e-mail to anyone that you think might have a memory to share of our dad. We have tried to gather as many emails as we could, but know that we have missed some. We would appreciate your help in spreading the word. :-) 

we sent it out and then we waited. a few started coming in right away....but we started *panicking* (70 envelopes was truly a LOT to fill). the emails kept tricking in, some amazing people forwarded the e-mail onto others and we also sent out a couple follow-up reminders that really helped. i must note that it wouldn't have been the same without the help of one AMAZING cousin of my dad's that personally took on the challenge to call each of his elderly aunt and uncles to transcribe their memories of him and get them to us-- (thank you, holly!!)

we gathered all of the memories, stuffed 70 numbered envelopes with them and then tied them together in a neat, tidy stack and made a cute little label.

we took my dad out to a fancy steakhouse to give him the stack of envelopes. he was floored. we laughed, we cried and after a few hours (yes. hours. it may have been the worlds longest birthday dinner). side note: thank you to the amazing people at the steakhouse at azul la jolla for being so generous with letting us occupy a beautiful ocean view table and never making us feel like we were taking too long. if you have never been to azul, you must. not only is the atmosphere beautiful, but the food is among the best that san diego has to offer.

there were lots of laughs and even some tears. the memories that people shared were thoughtful, loving, kind and some were downright hysterical. they came from aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and friends that are like family. each envelope that was opened took us on a journey and led to more stories to be told and memories to unearth from the depths of our minds.  my dad loved reliving all of the memories and said that (in a good way) it was like being able to attend his own memorial service and hear what people would say. 
look at that *giant* stack of letters!

a little boo-hoo-hoo-ing

he may kill me for posting this crying one. :-)

we took turns reading at some point. are my mom and dad not the cutest?!

a special thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that participated to make this such a special birthday for my dad....he will never forget it and neither will our family. what a very special celebration! 

so, if you are looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind gift i would suggest trying this. not only does it make a fabulous birthday gift, but i think it would be a great anniversary gift too. let us know if you end up trying it yourself! enjoy!



  1. Thank you for sharing the sweet moments of the success of your project--and yes, your parents are cuties!

    My usual family birthday treats are done in the KitchenAid mixer--but this product is zero-fat, sugar-free, and everlasting!

  2. Hello, i´m writting from Portugal.First i will ask you to forgive my english, but i want to say to you how much your gift touch me. My father past away 5 years ago and i know how important it is to care for this moments. thanks for sharing.

  3. What an amazing gift! I love this- pinning it now!

  4. Awww, that's amazing. I'm actually in the middle of doing this right now for my dad's 70th birthday, too! Crazy, huh? He actually has a twin brother, so we're doing it for both of 'em. They were pretty mischievous when they were young, so we're hoping for some great stories... haha!!! I'm hoping we get lots of responses. So far, nothing, but it's early still.