The Christmas Surprise
There is nothing grander than the sound of scampering feet running down the hallway, screaming with smiles as they appear around the corner. The reflection of the glimmering lights and wrapped up toys in their wide eyes as they rush over to inspect the many wonders under the tree and around the room. The rustling papers as they tear open the beautiful wrapped presents with bows and ribbons. The screams of enjoyment as they admire their gift, only to dive back under the tree to look for that next one with their name on it. The magic that fills the room as you hear over and over "Thank you Santa!" This is another one of many reasons why I look forward to that one month in the year called December.
Now it was almost Christmas and almost time for a few days off. We weren't going far this time. The plan was to head out and visit Ellie's family for a few days before Christmas and to complete some paperwork before the holidays. This I loved to do, for we would get points on our credit card which would pay for three nights at the Westin Hotel at the Bear Mountain Resort. I would sit in the hot tub with my computer plugged in, sitting on a chair and with a wireless keyboard, mouse I would do paperwork for five hours every morning while Ellie and the girls slept. I would order breakfast, coffee and spend my time finishing up work. Then in the afternoons, we would all go down town to the many wonderful Christmas theme landscapes. Ellie's family home was the one place we always loved and made sure that we would visit at least a few times a year for they were always happy to see how fast the girls were growing, and hear about our holidays and success. The kids would drink eggnog while the parents had a little something extra with there's for the cheer. We would feast on cookies, nuts, chocolates and any other good treat that was brought by while laughing about each others story's over the year.
The plan this year was started back in September when we were on holidays in Orlando. The one place that every kid has to go, is good old Disney World. While we were wondering around the stores, I stumbled across one Disney store that just sold Christmas decorations. The store was huge and sold just about everything imaginable for Christmas. The best part of it all was that everything was from a Disney character. There were Tinkerbelle tree ornaments, Bambi water globes, Dumbo teddy bears, Mickey and Goofy train sets... you name it, they had it. With no kids or wife near by, I decided it was time to do my shopping for the holidays. I picked a spot on the counter and just started loading up. It didn't take long before the workers realized what kind of shopper they had in their store, for within 5 minutes I had 2 girls there helping me out. I would walk around the store, saying I will take 10 of those, 5 of those, 10 of those, 1 train set with 8 boxes of tracks. I had spent just over $2000 on decorations, this leaving me with no spending money for the rest of the trip for myself, but well worth it. They boxed up everything, then mailed it all back to our address. This leaving me time to find my family and try to break the news to my wife that there will be some parcels waiting back at home for us.
Now that Christmas night was finally hear, it was time to start the magic that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives. I am usually up till 6am wrapping presents and decorating the room, but this time I had to make sure every present was wrapped and I needed Ellie more than ever to help throughout the night. We did our normal Christmas night with the kids, cookies for Santa, carrots for Rudolph, watch a Christmas movie, maybe play a game or tell a story then time for bed around 830 p.m. - 900p.m. We had the whole room and tree decorated weeks before like every year, but this time I had all my Disney World decorations in a box hiding in the garage that came in the mail a few months earlier. So when the kids went to bed we had to take down every decoration on the walls, tree and all over the living room. Normally the room is all decked out, so this took some time to take down and box away. By the time we were finished there was nothing left but an empty bare pine tree. Now it was time to bring out all the boxes and start decorating the room again for the Disney theme.
Not only were there all the decorations but we had all the presents wrapped in a Disney character wrapping paper. By the time we were finished not only was it 6:45am but the whole living room looked like a Disney World store. The tree was like something out of the center of Disneyland at Christmas time. There were 100 Christmas Disney character teddy bears around the room, we had fake snow all over the place and a Disney World train going around the living room with Mickey waving from every pass. Above the fireplace we had a green wreath placed on the mantle with 6 different snow globes neatly laid out. With all this completed it was time for one more thing to set up for my youngest daughter, Emily. This cost the least amount of money, however, was the hardest to find.
The one Christmas movie that was Emily's and my favorite was The Polar Express that we never missed watching every year, after it came out on DVD. So this year all she wanted was a bell from Santa's sled. That was it. She didn't ask for anything else, so I had my work cut out for me with this one. I needed a bell that was big enough to come from his sled. It couldn't just be a small bell, it had to be perfect so I went to every store on my time off looking. Nobody had a bell anywhere that was suitable for what I needed except for one store that had two of them. It took me a week of looking before I stumbled across a bell about the size of a grapefruit. It was perfect, so I built a small box out of wood, wrapped it with padding then covered it with a red velvet cloth to give it a nice square pillow look. Around the cloth, I achieved a gold rope tassel which I tied around the center of the box. Once this was completed, I then placed another matching gold tassel, but much smaller and looped that one through the bell.
Out of its hiding, I placed it on our glass coffee table, with the letter from Santa. The letter explained that Santa doesn't hand out his bells for he would have nothing left on his sled, but because she was always good and a special girl he was making this one exception for her, but she mustn't tell all the kids for he couldn't do it for everyone. I had a light also in the corner shining on the bell, so when she woke in the morning and came around the corner, she could even see the bright shine reflecting.
Ellie and I might have been dead to the world, but we still had 15 minutes before it was time to wake up the kids for Christmas morning. What do two adults do in this time, coffee, more coffee to stay awake. When my girls came out around the corner that morning, Rachael fell to the floor and Sharon screamed. They were both shocked at what the living room looked like now 11 hours after they left it. Emily didn't even care about her presents, she ran straight over to the bell and her laminated letter from Santa. That box and bell was the only thing that she kept safe and showed to everyone. Every adult that came into our home that holiday, I made sure that I pre-warned them about it and had them tell her that they couldn't hear the bell. This made her the only one who could hear it when she shook it.
Within the next couple of hours we finished our unwrapping, and it was time for the two of us to go to bed, while the kids played with their presents. Now being over 24 hours with no sleep, It was our turn. Out of all the Christmas's we had, that one was my favorite for our memories.
My name is Sean Snowdon and this is one story out of my memoir that I have written about spending many months of the year only trying to have that one night at Christmas. I dedicate myself to giving my kids as many surprises as I can, and Christmas is the time of year I treasure the most. I am always open to any story that anyone would love sharing about the same experiences that they may create.
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