My mother is celebrating her 80th birthday this weekend and I’m in Montreal for the special occasion.  She had no idea I’d be coming and, to ensure word didn’t get out, I kept my travel plans under my hat, not even breathing a word about it on this blog (I mean, face it.  A couple of you – I won’t name names – ARE a little blabby).  I flew out yesterday morning, spent last night at my sister’s house, and then today I made my surprise appearance.

In the lead up to my visit, my sister and I discussed the best way to spring my surprise appearance.  Mom was scheduled to have dim sum with friends and co-workers (Yes!  She still goes into the office!) and I figured I would just get there early and be seated at the table when she arrived (Surprise!), but transportation issues quashed that idea.  So my sister and I brainstormed alternate scenarios.  Here were some of our inspired ideas:

1. I hide in the back seat of my sister’s car while my she picks up my mother for lunch.  Once mom gets in the car, I spring up from the backseat: “Surprise!”

2. My sister drives us to mom’s place.  She heads inside while I sneak around to the back.  At some point, after mom let’s the dogs out, my sis notes: “Hey, who’s that walking off with your dog?”  Mom hurries outside to check and: “Surprise!”

3. My sister takes my mother shopping.  I sneak into the house.  When they return, my sister reports hearing strange noises coming from the garage.  My opens the garage door to investigate: “Surprise!”

4. My sister takes my mother shopping.  I sneak into the house.  Later, my mother comes downstairs to finish the laundry.  She opens the dryer – where I’ve been lying in wait.  I reach out and clap my hand around her ankle: “Surprise!”

5. My sister takes mom out for a late dinner.  I sneak into the house.  Sis drops mom off and mom retires to her room – but the light doesn’t work (because I’ve unplugged it!).  She prepares to lie down for a good night’s sleep – and discovers someone already lying there!  “Surprise!”

6. [Compliments of Kathode] My sister takes mom out shopping.  I sneak into the house.  When mom comes home and opens the refrigerator to get a snack, I jump out – Surprise!

All terrific ideas but, in the end, we went with none of the above.  Instead, my sister picked up a bunch of birthday flowers and drove to mom’s house.  While she headed inside, I phoned – presumably from Vancouver – and wished mom a happy birthday.  Then, flowers in hand, I rang the bell.  My sister peeked out the window and informed my mother it was a special delivery.  And when my mother answered the door…

Good, but I think we should have gone with the dryer gag.

After that, it was off to a special 80th birthday lunch with mom, sis, and about twenty co-workers at Le Cristal Chinois.  It was just me and the ladies!  And lots of great food!


Crispy pork
Crispy pork
Chicken and mushroom dumplings.
Chicken and mushroom dumplings.
Shrimp dumplings
Shrimp dumplings
Siu mai
Siu mai
Scallop dumplings
Scallop dumplings


Garlic-fried lobster
Garlic-fried lobster
Peking duck
Peking duck
Barbecued pork
Barbecued pork
Spicy taro
Spicy taro
Egg tarts
Egg tarts
Birthday cake
Birthday cake


The gang!
The gang!

38 thoughts on “February 8, 2014: Surprise!!!

  1. First, say happy birthday to mom for me!! What a great surprise, although it would seem all your initial options are more designed to invoke a heart attack than an actual surprise. Your mom seemed kind of surprised, but almost disbelieving at your arrival, like – “who the hell is this strange guy and why does he have a camera in my face?” 🙂

    That looked like a great lunch, but I feel stuffed just looking at it. It all looked good and there did not appear to be one fossilized vegetable in the whole thing.

  2. How marvelous!!! I liked the dryer idea. Happy Birthday Joe’s mom! I hope I look at good as you when I turn 80 and still be working (wow!) But in true Canadian fashion her response to the surprise was “eh.”

  3. I wish a Happy birthday to your mum.
    The dryer thing is very good but you liying in her bed is evil 😆

  4. ROFL. I am sorry, but from her expression and tone, I have the suspicion that she thought you were some sort of hired double. Certainly there was a certain lack of thrilled surprise. Or maybe she didn’t like the floral arrangement… or perhaps your secret wasn’t as secret as you hoped (we are a bit blabby, and we do have our sources), and she was just trying hard to pretend to know you weren’t there…
    Whatever the explanation, kudos on being a good son, and taking the long trip out there. Safe flight back home.

  5. Happy Birthday to Mrs. Mallozzi. You have a very sweet but evil minded son. 😉

    @Gforce – my copy of “Terms of Enlistment” will likely be too late to read as well, and it’s from Amazon. I may have to go with another on-line book seller for the next book of the month selection. Frustrating.

  6. Happy birthday to Doña Angela!

    That bemused expression looks familiar. My beloved Aunt J. had the same when she walked into her surprise 90th-birthday party last December.

    (The surprise ruse worked completely; she said she first spotted my 6’2″ brother, then thought, “I’d better look around and see who else is here.”)

  7. Aww, what a sweet surprise. A big Happy 80th Birthday to your Mom, with heartfelt wishes for many more healthy, happy years to come! I miss doing such things for my own dear Mom, but memories never fail to warm. 🙂 You’re a good son.

  8. Your mom is absolutely adorable. Give her a big hug and kiss for me and wish her a Happy Birthday.

    In light of your festivities you must have had too much chocolate before leaving Vancouver… is it really the 9th already??? That means I have school tomorrow! ACK! No!

  9. Great surprise! The happiest of birthdays to Mrs. Mallozzi and all the best with health, happiness and much laughter for the next year and beyond!

  10. 1. Spring up from the backseat of the car and yell Surprise! Nope. She’d have a heart attack.

    2. “Who’s that walking off with your dog?” Mom hurries outside to check and you yell Surprise! Nope. She’d fall and break a leg hurrying outside.

    3. I sneak into the house, my sister reports hearing strange noises coming from the garage. Mom opens the garage door to investigate and you yell surprise! Nope. Your Mom would have a knife in her hands and stab you to death in her fright.

    4. I sneak into the house, my mother comes downstairs to finish the laundry, and opens the dryer – where I’ve been lying in wait. I reach out and clap my hand around her ankle and yell Surprise! Nope. She quickly drops a brand new 50 pound box of detergent on your head, killing you instantly.

    5. I sneak into the house. Mom retires to her room – but the light doesn’t work (because I’ve unplugged it!). She prepares to lie down for a good night’s sleep – and discovers someone already lying there! Surprise! Nope. She’d reach for the gun under her pillow and shoot you dead.

    6. I sneak into the house. When mom opens the refrigerator to get a snack, I jump out – Surprise! Nope. She’d slam the door shut and leave you in there to die of no air and hypothermia.

    I like what you did much, much better! Very cool! Please tell your mom “happy birthday!” from all of your blog followers.

  11. Happy Birthday Mrs. Mallozzi!

    Joe, you’re a good son for flying halfway across the country to surprise her. And, that meal looked absolutely delish!

  12. Hey Joe
    Happy Birthday Momma Mallozzi.
    Now tell me the truth, Joe, did you go for the birthday or the food?


  13. Happy Birthday Mrs. Mallozzi! And many many more!

    For me, I’m enjoying my weekend with relatives here in Georgia…must be a visiting family type of weekend.

  14. Happy Birthday mama Mallozzi! And many many more!

    @Joe – you are a goooood boy!

  15. a very happy birthday to her. (she doesn’t look a day over 70)

    and the food looks good. although, i’m unsure about the spicy taro. mainly because of the spice.

  16. Joey, do I get a cookie for not blabbing???! 😀 Give mamma a hug for me!!

    @ Ponytail – 😆 !!! Although, I must say that Mamma Mallozzi is quite the unflappable lady, isn’t she? Such composure! I’m guessing she’s pretty much immune to Joey’s little antics by now. 🙂


  17. Happy Birthday to your mom.

    And I think it’s better you didn’t go with any of those ideas. Unless you were planning to give her a heart attack. In that case go with the dryer thing.

  18. ok, I admit it. I am the blabby one. I have a problem and I need to go into rehab to cure my blabbiness. I just can’t stop from telling everybody’s business all over the place. Next thing will be the government telling me I can’t publish all the data I come across from my job at the National Security council. they just have a bad attitude. so, I am glad you kept your plans from me, cause I sure would have blabbed it. (just kidding)

    Happy Birthday, Mrs. Mallozzi.

  19. Happy Birthday to Mamma Mallozzi! Great surprise and good job to Joe and Andria.

    Ponytail, what a riot. :LOL:

    Das, you’re right. She didn’t seem fazed a bit. She’s a good mom. I bet her Joe-radar kicked in. 🙂

    I posted thoughts on Poisoning the Well on yesterday’s blog, in case anyone is catching up on their viewing this weekend.

    Staying warm here in the snowy, freezing Midwest. Joe, can we send the cold Canadian air back now? It’s been a long winter. 🙂

  20. Happy Birthday Mrs. Mallozzi!

    My mum surprised me for my 30th birthday (oh so long ago). I was living in New Zealand and she was in Australia so I was NOT expecting any visitors. I got home from work and as I was heading to the kitchen I spotted something out of the corner of my eye so I turned my head and saw mum sitting on the sofa with a big grin on her face.

  21. Wow, Joe what a nice suprise for your mom, Happy Birthday Angela (momma Mallozzi). You are a good son for sure. Love the cake and all the wonderful pictures. How do you get everyone not to eat all the food before you get the pictures? You would have to be quick if I was there, it all looks wonderful! and Mom looks great!!, I am sure her day was happy happy happy!!

  22. Happy birthday, Joe’s Mom!

    So glad you guys are Canadian, those surprises in America could lead to one of those tragic shooting stories. Mom Shoots Son in Dryer. Fluff and Fold Funeral next Friday.

  23. A very happy birthday to Mrs. Mallozzi! 😀

    Your mom is so cute and you are a very nice son to surprise her on her birthday. I think she can keep you for a while longer. :p

    All that food. It looked delicious and I got stuffed just looking at it.

    Thanks for the video and all the pictures. 😀

  24. It can’t be 80, your mom looks fabulous! Those are some great genes! All of those surprises have a John Carpenter feel to them.

    That food looks spectacular; I’ve never seen food that good on this side of the border. I’m willing to walk the six hundred miles it would take to try that garlic lobster.

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