Let’s do two truths and a lie – 1) I am allergic to peanuts, 2) my full name “Gillian” is spelled with a “G” not a “J,” and 3) I was born on Christmas Day.

Which is the lie? Plot twist – all three are true!

Okay, so I guess that wasn’t technically two truths and a lie, but it was my way of introducing three super fun facts about me… the most relevant currently being truth number three.

Yes, on Christmas Eve of 1992, twenty-five long years ago, my poor mother went into labor and was sent off to the hospital to deliver (what I assume) was her favorite Christmas gift of her life. Nine pounds, one ounce of pure Christmas joy and splendor.

Growing up, the most frequent question I received was, “So do you get double presents?” In truth, over the years both Christmas and birthday celebrations have sort of been mushed into one. We used to try and separate the two, but as I got older and my focus shifted from presents/toys to money for paying my bills, it just didn’t really matter anymore.

Now, I was always very fortunate that my parents were able to provide me with incredibly generous gifts for my Christmas/birthday extravaganza, but one of the worst parts about the combination of the two days is that all my friends are with THEIR families on MY birthday. At the risk of sounding incredibly selfish – WHAT THE HELL?!

Now obviously I’m totally kidding, but it always kind of sucked not being able to see my friends on my birthday or go out to celebrate on the actual day. For a few years between 21 and 23, I was able to wrangle a crew to go to the only bar in the area open on Christmas night – good ole, reliable T.G.I. Fridays. But as everyone is getting older and drifting apart and moving away, that tradition has fallen to the wayside. Which, might I add, is totally fine since I’m on my way to becoming a grandmother who would so much rather watch Netflix in bed than pound tequila shots at the bar.

But, in any case, I’ve always sort of felt like I got the short end of the stick when it came to my birthday. My parents always do a wonderful job making the day special with my favorite foods and desserts and whatnot, don’t get me wrong, but there is always a little sadness that I feel around this time of year. But unfortunately, the one thing you really can’t change about yourself is your birthday.

This year was going about the same as usual. I came home to my parents’ house a few days before Christmas and did what I do pretty much every year – sat around, hung out with my dog, and watched Netflix. Full disclosure: these are my absolute favorite activities. But alas, even I get bored of this cycle of events after a few days. However, time went on as it always does and before I knew it, it was Christmas morning and I was officially 25.

I suppose now I should mention that, as nice as it would have been to be with friends on my birthday, there was really only one person I was wishing I could spend it with. My boyfriend, Matt, was in Queens with his family celebrating the holiday. He had briefly mentioned spending the day with me several months back, but we hadn’t discussed it since. I assumed that he would need to be with his family for Christmas since his parents had moved to Florida earlier this year and were back in New York for only a few days.

So, like I said, Christmas morning was here before I knew it. I woke up early as per usual and had my breakfast and tea while we waited for my dad to wake up. Then we did presents as a family – me, my mom, my dad, and the dog – as we always do. Twenty-fifth time’s a charm!

The plan was for the rest of my family to come over around noon – again, as per usual. Same thing every year. I showered, did my hair and makeup, and asked my dad to take a few photos of my dog and me under the tree – gotta do it for the ‘gram!

Little Christmas angels, obviously.

My parents exchanged glances nervously as I posed with the dog, but I didn’t think anything of it. After taking a few photos, my dad tossed my phone back to me and said, “Work with those.”

A little confused, I headed back to my room. “Company will be here in twenty minutes,” I heard my mom call down the hallway. I continued getting ready, but in no rush. Almost every year my Aunt Julie, Uncle Tom, and cousin, Alex, arrived before I was fully ready and it was never an issue.

Ten minutes later, my mom appeared at my door looking frantic. “Can you wait to get dressed until after they arrive? They’ll be here soon.”

I was so confused. “Huh? It’ll only take a few minutes for me to get dressed… I don’t want to greet people in my pajamas.” …even though they are super comfy, matching, and incredibly festive.

My mom became even more visibly nervous. “Okay, just hurry. I want you to answer the door for them.”

By now I was so confused. Why did I have to answer the door? Never in my twenty-some years of life did I have to specifically open the door for company. Things were getting weird, but I still didn’t really think anything of it. I started getting dressed begrudgingly.

As I was reaching for my boots, I heard my mom yell, “They’re here. Please come answer the door.”

This was so bizarre. Boots still unzipped, I stumbled down the hallway. Suddenly, a thought crossed my mind. No way, it couldn’t be. Then, sure enough, as I rounded the corner and saw who was outside the front door I couldn’t believe it – there stood my sweet boyfriend, holding a huge bouquet of red and white roses.

I was so shocked I couldn’t even react. I opened the door and hugged him numbly, still so flustered by the surprise. His sister, Alyssa, and dad stood in my driveway smiling.

“We thought you were going to cry!” Alyssa said, who was holding up her phone to record my reaction. I was honestly too surprised to show any worthwhile emotion, I just smiled dumbly and frantically took the flowers from Matt.

Everyone came inside and explained how the surprise had been planned for weeks. Matt had called my parents at the beginning of December and they had arranged everything together. I was still so in shock by the whole thing, but so appreciative to Matt’s family for letting him come spend the day with me – especially when they had so little time to be with him – and for driving him all the way from Queens to the suburbs of Jersey, which took over an hour one way.

The beautiful birthday flowers Matt brought me.
Prettiest arrangement ever!

Although Matt’s sister and dad soon headed back to Queens, Matt stayed for the rest of the day and night. My other relatives arrived shortly after, before I had the chance to fully wind down from being flustered by the surprise.

Not only did Matt bring me flowers, he also brought flowers for my mom, popcorn for my dad, and a new toy for my dog. He brought my birthday present and card as well, and a two presents from his parents for me. I was so overwhelmed and touched by the sentiment that I couldn’t even succinctly put into words how much it all meant to me.

The flowers Matt brought for my mom.

Luckily, I had accidentally grabbed the card I had written for him for Christmas when I was leaving for my parents’ house, so I had that to give to him. His gifts were easy to pull together to give to him unexpectedly, too – one was a gelato making class, so I was able to print the calendar invite from my email. The other was a star map of what the sky looked like in New York City the night we met – definitely cheesy, but it was my attempt at being romantic. I was able to print out a preview of the map, but assured him I had the full poster at my apartment waiting for him the next time he was there.

And what did Matt get me, you ask? Well, let’s just say we will be “soarin’ and flyin'” into 2018 on a HELICOPTER TOUR of Manhattan! Talk about an awesome Instagram. Matt had subtly hinted at this gift in the past few weeks and I had a slight inkling that might be what we were doing, but I was still surprised nonetheless – what a day of surprises for me!

Mr. Surprise himself!
All smiles with the best guy ever.
Smiling through the pain of being cold! Back inside we go.

The rest of the day was full of family, food, and more presents – what more could a girl ask for? It was great to get to be with both my relatives and Matt, and everyone made the day so wonderful and so special for me.

Matt and I had the fleeting idea to go to T.G.I. Friday’s for a celebratory birthday drink after my family had gone home Christmas night, but quickly opted to instead stay in, get comfy in our pajamas, and end the day our favorite way – watching movies cozy on the couch.

What Matt did for me to make my birthday special – and more than just a regular Christmas day – truly went so above and beyond anything I could have expected from him. His thoughtfulness and effort made for a birthday that I will never forget, and one that I certainly consider to be the best that I’ve had so far.

I am so incredibly lucky and grateful to have him in my life, and can only hope that I make him feel as special and as loved as he makes me feel.

Merry Jillmas to all, and to all a good night!

Mandatory couple-tree-photo. Hashtag GOALS, am I right?

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