Grandpa’s Surprise 80th Birthday Party

My extended family is like a corporation in that we like committees, conference calls, and planning events. My dad has four siblings (one older brother and three younger sisters. A couple of years ago, my grandfather was turning 80 years old on his birthday in July. Many conferences calls later, the siblings had planned a large party complete with several of his surviving siblings, nieces, nephews, church members, former coworkers, and (almost) all of the Holloway clan.

We flew and drove from all over the country-Arizona, California, Florida, New York, Virginia, South Carolina-to surprise him on his big day. He was told that he was going to a presentation for my aunt and driven to the party. It took him a moment to process that everyone was there for him instead.

Surprise, Grandpa!

While we enjoyed a delicious Southern meal-fried chicken, rice and gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, rolls, and sweet tea-person after person shared their memories of my grandfather during different times and places of employment. All of my father’s siblings shared a memory of him as well.

Most of my cousins and I (there are 10 girls and 1 boy) sang his favorite song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and then both of my grandparents gave short speeches of thanks to the crowd. There were many touching moments.


When someone lives a life exemplifying hard work, honesty, integrity, and sacrifice, it should be honored. Many times we wait until our loved ones are no longer with us before we publicly acknowledge their invaluable contributions to both our lives and others that they have touched. I am glad that my uncles and aunts took the initiative to put together this great event to show my grandfather that he was and is loved and appreciated by many people.

Theme: Checkers (one of his favorite games)

Colors: Red and black

Featured Items: Checker boards, candy (we all have a sweet tooth), vases, chalkboard signs

Supplies: Vases, glass beads, ribbon, checker boards (Dollar Tree), mini chalkboard signs, miniature candy bars