I've always watched the car commercials that show a husband giving his wife a new car with the big red bow on it as a Christmas gift.  I've always wanted to do that.  More than even receiving, I've wanted to give.  I wanted to see the look on her face when you've given the ultimate in great Christmas gifts.  That's the gift that can't be topped, aside from donating a kidney.  For the first time in my car-owning life, I had a paid-off vehicle.  As a matter of fact, both vehicles in the Garrett casa were paid off. 

   My wife has been hinting for months that she wants a minivan.  They're so comfortable and convenient, but they're just not for me.  I always told her the same thing when the topic came up; "We've got no car payment for the first time ever, so let's keep it that way".  When I read last week that many car manufacturers were overstocked with vehicles and were offering amazing incentives I saw my opportunity.  After speaking with Jeff at Dodge Country, I decided to make my move.  The only problem is that I wanted to trade my car.  That's a problem because it's actually the car my wife drives on a daily basis.  That meant I had to go stealth. 

   My wife works at an area high school, so I pulled the ol' switcharoo right after she got to work.  My biggest fear is that she'd go to her car to get something she'd forgotten, only to see it missing and get the cops involved.  Nothing slows down the trade-in process more than trading a car that's been reported stolen.  It was 8:05am when I made the switch.  To make the perfect surprise happen, I knew I'd have to be back, minivan in my possession, by the end of her planning period at roughly 10:45am. 

 The whole process went on without a hitch.  From Bonnie to Jeff to Ace, the entire crew at Dodge Country treated me great.  I was in and out in 90 minutes.  Of course I had to borrow a big red bow (they typically don't sell those at Hobby Lobby).  I arrived at her school, parked nearest to her parking spot as I could, placed the bow on the hood and went inside the school.  Of course I had to sign in and be escorted to her classroom.  The question now was... how would I get her outside without making it obvious that I had a surprise.

   When I walked into her classroom I told her the first thing that popped into my head:  Tyler (our 10-year old, forgetful son) had forgotten a book in her car, and while trying to unlock the car my key had snapped off in the lock.  She didn't bat an eye.  Not even six months ago I'd been forced to replace the lock at my house because I snapped my key off.  She handed me the keys, and I began to think my plan was sinking.  I went into hurry-up mode.  I told her I had to leave immediately and get back to work, so she'd have to come unlock the car. 

   Once we walked outside, she instantly noticed the car was missing.  In as cool-as-a-cucumber voice as I could, I said, "Well, maybe that's it down there with... the big red bow sitting on the ground directly in front of it".  That's right, the bow had been blown off by the wind.  My big finale had been ruined by mother nature.  As you can see from the short video attached, the missing bow wasn't a big deal to my wife.

   All in all I pulled off the toughest part:  making it a surprise.  My son Tyler even knew I was planning on doing it, and he didn't blow it, so kudos to him.  The best news to come out of all this is that now I won't have to go all-out for a Christmas gift again until this car is paid off.  The ball is in her court.