Pickles or Jam?

My siblings and I planned a surprise hall dinner and social for my parents’ 60th birthdays. My sister put in most of the leg work; including the preparation of 20 pounds each of macaroni and cabbage salad. This seemed like a lot but I was not going to start a debate on the issue. We spent an entire day decorating, running errands and preparing food. The thing I was most excited about was to see and document the looks on their faces when they walked into a hall full of friends and family.

My sister had fabricated an elaborate story involving a late Easter Dinner and another family member’s birthday in order to lure them to the hall. She even borrowed their meat slicer and had our Mom make a salad for dinner. While the 5 of us (including significant others) were driving around in my sister’s Journey completing our errands, my Mom called on the Bluetooth. Since we were not supposed to be in town, I covered my mouth and held my breath as my sister answered the phone.


“Hi, I called you at home but couldn’t get you. Are you on your way to a baby shower?” (Another lie)


“About tonight, I am bringing a card for Eldon (The Alleged Birthday Boy) and I don’t have a gift for him. Do you think he would like pickles or jam?” (See post on “Crazy Garden Lady”)

“You don’t have to bring a gift but whatever you like.”

“Ok. I’ll see you later.”

AND . . . Breathe.

I have left out one small detail. My brother had answered his phone in the middle of this conversation to whisper, “just a second,” to the person on the other end. We were all busting a gut, trying to keep our laughter silent. She didn’t suspect a thing.

Family and friends started arriving in the afternoon with the Birthday Boy/Girl expected an hour later. We were ready with a look-out and cameras in hand. People were amazed at how good of liars we were. Momma didn’t teach her kids to lie but just this once, we assumed it acceptable. And hilarious. 

The look-out (Jack of Most Trades) sounded his alarm. He had spotted the car and they were due at the front door in T-minus 2 minutes. Again, silence overcame us. Our unsuspecting parents walked into the hall as seventy plus people yelled,


What we saw on their faces was not surprise and happiness, but confusion.

3. . . 2 . . . 1

And now, realization.

You see, neither of their birthdays was even close to the date we set for the party. They were invited to an Easter Dinner and Birthday and brought along a Broccoli Salad and Eldon’s “Birthday Jar of Jam.”

A jar of jam signifying our sweet victory!

It turns out I should have debated the 20 lbs of macaroni. Jack of Most Trades was about to contact his kitchen union and pose a strike in response to my proposal to serve macaroni salad for dinner every night for a week. Unfortunately, the salad met its demise because I, quite simply, cannot have my foreman walking out on the job to leave an unhandy, unlucky housewife to look after herself. 

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