"Letters to Matt" – Part One

What do you get a guy for his 40th birthday who really isn’t a gift kind of guy?

How do I acknowledge a milestone birthday for my husband, when a lavish surprise birthday party isn’t in the cards since most of his friends and family live out of the state and even out of the country, leading filled-to-the-brim lives?

How do I pay tribute to my boyfriend of nineteen years? What would be meaningful to him?

The idea came to me about six months ago, kind of out of the blue, when I was doing dishes or something mundane. Since Matt is a writer and loves, loves, loves the written word, what if I had significant people in his life each write him a letter marking his 40th birthday?

For many years, Matt has paid tribute to his friends and family by writing true stories, in newspaper form, about them. He even started to offer his services to those he didn’t know, as an amazing keepsake with “Your Front Page”.

Knowing that I would absolutely do a terrible job if I tried to imitate Matt’s brainchild, I decided to let everyone else do the writing!

Originally, the goal was to have the gift completed by Matt’s birthday, which was almost two months ago. But at about the time I was going to break in to his laptop for email addresses and send out the request for submissions, Matt’s dad fell ill and his health rapidly declined.

Matt flew down to Florida and spent the last few days with his dad before his dad left for heaven on May 29th. No one knew just how gravely ill his dad was, as evident by this Father’s Day tribute Matt had written three weeks earlier, which was published just two days before his dad moved on.

Life was immediately different in our home after that, and I thought about abandoning my gift idea. But rather than abandon it, I surrendered to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen in the time frame I planned, but that it was still worth doing.

So I sneaked out of bed on the eve of his birthday, gathered email addresses from his laptop, set up a separate “LetterstoMatt@” email account for people to secretly send their submissions, and I sent out emails to about 65 friends, family, and colleagues explaining my vision for the gift and giving a five-week deadline (which was extended another week since we ended up being on vacation on the original date).

It was 2 am, there was no turning back, I had no idea what to expect, didn’t know who’d respond, how they’d respond, and therefore hadn’t really worked out all the details regarding the final product.

I crawled in to bed, hugged my slumbering husband, and prayed to God that people would be inspired and I left it all in His hands.

To be continued in my next post…

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