My strong, kind, beautiful, thoughtful, gracious wife of two plus years turned thirty today. But in the Boswell family, we don’t celebrate just one day in honor of Joann’s birth and life—we celebrate eight. It’s a tradition that spans beyond the first year we were dating, 2009. It goes all the way back to college, to the beginning of our sophomore year at George Fox, 2002.
But before we go back, two things must be pointed out. One, “Joannica” requires (by my own ordinance) that I give Joann a gift for both her actual birthday as well as the subsequent seven days. A “gift” can mean anything thoughtful, intentional, sacrificial—tangible or intangible. The point is, Joann should be made to feel special.
Two, we are happily married with a beautiful daughter. Our story has a happy ending. Whatever foolish things I did in the past, you should at least keep in mind that, hey, it worked out okay. Thanks Joann, for letting it “work out” okay.
So the story of origins. Joann and I were good friends freshman year. We lived near each other and spent a decent amount of time together. We even went to spring formal together, which I honestly don’t remember much about. I’m sure we had fun.
We didn’t really stay in touch that summer, as I was off working at Mission Springs, a youth camp in the Santa Cruz area (Joann was working at a lumber mill in Roseburg). I returned to school my sophomore year working as a Resident Assistant, my mind and time occupied with new faces and activities and friends.
At some point when my new freshman residents were moving in, Joann stopped by my dorm to say hi, after months of not seeing each other. She had apparently had me on her mind all summer. My response the moment I saw her? “Oh, Joann, hi! It's so good to see you! I forgot all about you!”
So that was late August. Now fast forward a month. At some point during the month of September, I had gone to Hollywood video and set up an account. On that account I was able to add five friends; on the birthday of each of these friends, I could get a free video rental. I thought of the five birthdays I could remember; one that came to mind was my old buddy Joann’s—September 30th. So I added her.
A couple weeks later, I went to Hollywood video with some of my friends/residents. I realized when I went to pay—it’s Joann’s birthday! I can get a free rental! So I did…I got a movie for free. What I did not do was call Joann or acknowledge to her in any way that I was aware it was her birthday.
The next day, one of my residents (Troy maybe?) saw Joann and wished her a happy birthday. She didn't know him and asked how he knew it was her birthday. He explained that I had rented a movie (Moulin Rouge?) that several of us had watched...thanks to her. She of course was very aware that I did not contact her at all on her birthday. But I got a free movie because it was her birthday.
The next day, Joann confronted me, lightheartedly and sweetly but with of course a hint of disappointment. Actually, I think she said something like "you rented a movie on my birthday and didn't invite me?!" I shamefully apologized and “repented," making it up to her by initiating “Joannica,” an extended birthday celebration in which she would get eight days of thoughtful acknowledgment, with some sort of “gift” given each day.
So I'd forgotten that she existed, but remembered her birthday. She was baffled, I think. Rightly so.
And the moral of the story is…don’t be stupid.
And the other point of this retelling? To say thank you Joann…you are so precious to me, and I’ve been a buffoon at various times along the way. Thanks for not giving up on me, despite my many faults, both past and present. Thank you for your grace. I love you.