Cue the 'Mission Impossible' theme song because, Ladies & Gents, we have been  able to successfully surprise my Dad. The man who can correctly guess his wrapped Christmas present WITHOUT even shaking the box was thoroughly surprised and, dare I say it?, humbled this past Monday at a surprise party thrown in his honor.

As my mom mentioned earlier

, we'll be celebrating his 80th year of life the entire year and this was just Party #2.

The idea was birthed last June, when Dad turned 79, as I started thinking ahead. Despite knowing I had an entire year to brainstorm, I was still at a loss as to how to celebrate his birthday among the people of his hometown of New Providence when he lives in California. And then: IT HIT. The perfect way to get him to the party without knowing it's a party for him. The Monday Morning Town Breakfast.

I ran the idea by a cousin of mine who is on the team that runs the Breakfast crew and he said that people use the event as a means of celebrating other milestones too, so it was "totally do-able". A month prior to the the Monday of Dad's arrival, I sent an email to be forwarded to the church body and for them to let other folks know. Time was running quickly and I couldn't keep up to send out personalized invites to some of Dad's classmates, but I prayed they'd be there.

(Bob Broer, Dad, Bud Whitehead, Fred Marsh-Dad's high school barbershop quartet members)

In the days leading up to the Breakfast, I had casually mentioned to Dad that I'd like to attend a Breakfast since I'd never seen the inside of the renovated building. He agreed it was a great idea. *Whew! Deception #1 complete.*

The night before the Breakfast, Dad did all the work and brought it up himself, asking us what time we'd like to arrive. I casually suggested 8:00ish (since that's what I'd told a few people so they'd be there ahead of us...) *Deception #2 complete*

After that conversation, I got out of the house to decorate the room with the excuse of practicing music for another cousin's wedding (all totally true). I just happened to stop by the Breakfast building on my way there. :) *Deception #3*

As we walked "uptown" as Dad calls it, he took a look around and said, "I've never seen this many cars here before!" I casually mentioned that maybe a lot of families had guests because of the 4th of July holiday weekend activities...

Walking through the door, I glanced around the room quickly as people were eating pancakes, omlettes and pastries and thank God I have another cousin with a voice that can cut through any room no matter the volume: "THERE'S THE BIRTHDAY BOY!!!!!!" Everybody's eyes were on Dad and he just tried to shush her. Judy led the whole room in a loud and rambunctious rendition of 'Happy Birthday' and that's when I pointed out to Red-Faced-Totally-Embarassed-Dad that there were photos of him on every table and a line up of framed photos on the fountain bar:

I brought some framed photos I had of Dad in my own home for table centerpieces. In addition, I scoured our home in New Providence for photos of Dad growing up and I added an album the Mom made of all our Christmas cards. This served as something for people to flip through and see Dad as the awesome father & husband that he is, while all the black & white photos stirred up memories for them when they were young with him.

We closed the place down, said our thank yous, and packed up all the frames & photos. When we got home, Dad opened the cards that people had brought for him with a, "I can't believe people would take the time to go out and get me a card..." But they sure provided for great laughs:

Party #2 a complete surprise and total success thanks to the awesome people of New Providence and their Monday Morning Pancake Breakfasts!!!

Comment