28: The Surprise Party

28: The Surprise Party

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

The Surprise Party

A smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly, but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around.

~Carolyn Birmingham

The year my mother-in-law, Dorothy, was turning ninety, my husband Ted and his sister Crystal decided to throw a big party to celebrate. We would host the gathering, since it would be in August, and we had a pool that everyone could enjoy.

It wasn’t going to be a surprise. Ted and Crystal thought that would be too hard to pull off, and their mother would certainly suspect something. So Dorothy was told ahead of time that everyone was coming to our house to celebrate her birthday and enjoy a backyard barbecue.

When the day arrived, our house exploded with friends and family, from babies on up. Kids ran around playing, while the adults cooled off in the pool or lounged on the deck. Crystal even joined some of the grandkids on the trampoline! Ted had set up a karaoke system outside so there was plenty of entertainment—good and bad!

The food was amazing. Everyone brought a variety of side dishes to go along with the standard hotdogs, hamburgers and barbecued ribs. My kitchen was littered with slow-cookers, casseroles, and desserts galore! We had chips and dips, baked goodies, salads, soups, corn on the cob, and baked beans. The aroma was wonderful!

It was delightful to see the joy on Dorothy’s face as she watched her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Laughter could be heard from everywhere.

After many hours of good fun and good food, it was time to bring out the cake. Crystal and Ted handled the task of carrying the large sheet cake outside while I trailed behind with paper plates, forks, and napkins. The crowd erupted into a loud “Happy Birthday to You” song as they approached Dorothy sitting out on the deck. Dorothy smiled, and then made a wish and blew out the two candles—a “9” and a “0.”

As Ted and Crystal placed the cake on the table, Dorothy said, “You know, I’m only turning eighty-nine this year.” There was a stunned silence. Ted and Crystal looked confused and were clearly trying to do the math in their heads. Finally, Ted asked, “Why didn’t you say something, Mom? Why didn’t you tell us?”

To which Dorothy replied, “Because I wanted to have everyone together for the party. We don’t get to do this often. I wanted to have the party!”

With that, everyone laughed and enjoyed the birthday cake. Later, we lit the tiki torches and had a bonfire, still laughing, realizing that we hadn’t planned a surprise for Dorothy, but she had clearly surprised all of us.

~Lil Blosfield

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