Column: Serving up good surprises can lift spirits throughout year

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Dec. 29, 2010

It was Christmas Eve, my wife and I had just arrived home from her parents’ house and I was ready to go inside and get warm. Not so fast, my wife said, before asking me to get a large serving bowl from the trunk and to bring it inside.

This particular serving bowl – mind you – was headed back to her parents’ house the next morning so that my wife could make a fruit salad to take to a family gathering on Christmas. Being left in the car all night would not harm it, so I was unsure why it needed to join us in our humble abode. Perhaps my wife was worried that it would get lonely, as serving bowls tend to do during the holidays.

While I didn’t completely understand the reasons for removing a serving bowl that I would just have to load back into the car the next morning, I also didn’t want to start an argument on Christmas Eve. So I grumbled under my breath and opened the trunk.

And, lo and behold, there was my Christmas present – a shiny, beautiful set of golf clubs begging me to move to Florida so I could immediately use them.

I. Love. Surprises.

In fact, one of my favorite things about the holidays are the surprises. Unwrapping my presents. Watching others unwrap their presents. Discovering what has been cooked for Christmas dinner. It’s all wonderful.

We can forget what it’s like to be pleasantly surprised as we go through our day-to-day life. As a newspaper editor, I’m forced to deal with unpleasant surprises far too often. While we here at the Kane County Chronicle enjoy focusing on the good around us when we get the chance, we have a responsibility to publish the unfortunate surprises we come across on a daily basis – crimes, death, loss, etc.

As a result, I’ve grown to dislike surprises in months not named December or July (my birthday month).

So it’s nice to have the holidays to reinforce that surprise can be a good thing, a delightful respite from the day-to-day. And while we can’t plan our own surprises, we certainly can surprise those who are important to us with something pleasant from time to time.

Because, believe me, there’s nothing quite like reaching into a trunk for a serving bowl and finding a new set of golf clubs instead.

Joe Grace is the editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at


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