Sometimes I'm moved to do nice things for my friends or family members. And sometimes, I want these things to be surprises to the person on the receiving end. More often than not, it's much more difficult than I thought.
Take, for example, the Christmas my siblings and I bought tickets for our parents to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. They'd talked about wanting to see it and dammit, it was their Christmas gift and we wanted it to be a surprise. So, I bought the tickets for a weekend we knew my dad didn't have to do chores that was far enough in advance that the 'rents would have time to mark it off their calendars.
What was the response to this gift? My mom bitched and bitched and bitched because she'd have to take the day off from her part-time job she didn't need to work. She probably complained about some other stuff, too. It actually still hurts me now to think about it. I felt like such an asshole for trying to do something nice. The stupidest part about it all is that my dad ended up being sick and I went with her to the show. And she loved it.
Then there was the time I baked cookies and possibly banana bread for a friend out of state and either overnighted or priority mailed the package -- after asking if someone would be around should a package be delivered and being assured that someone would be able to get it -- only to have it sit at the post office for three weeks or longer because someone wasn't home and then they just never got around to going to the post office to get it. I even went so far as to tell her she would need to pick the packaged up as soon as possible, but to no avail. In retrospect, I should have just said, "I AM SENDING YOU BAKED GOODS. MAKE SURE YOU DON'T LEAVE THE PACKAGE AT THE POST OFFICE FOR WEEKS."
I probably have more failed surprise gestures in my past than successful ones. And yet, I still attempt them. What's the fun in random acts of kindness if you tell people that they're coming? "Hey, I'm going to send you flowers tomorrow. Make sure you're at work to get them" Yeah, it's still nice. However it just seems less awesome than if the flower-receiver had no idea the flowers were on the way and was totally surprised.
Maybe someday I'll learn my lesson and try to stop doing such stupid things. But in the meantime, I'll hope my most recent attempt turns out okay.