My husband Jim and I left Ohio (Akron area) six years ago and Jasper, Alabama is now our home. I have been back to Ohio five or maybe six times. We have never celebrated Christmas in Ohio since we left.
Last year I decided we were going to celebrate Christmas with my siblings. I decided it had to be a big "Christmas Surprise." We talked it all over and our son, his wife and my grandbaby from Maryland would meet us in Ohio on Christmas Eve. Our other son also agreed to share in the Christmas Surprise. We purchased our tickets in August and kept our mouths shut - no one, NOT ANYONE, would spoil the surprise. Jim's mother was in on the surprise, she supplied our hideout in Columbus.
My poor children, they received email requests such as this one:
……..remember to be very careful about our Christmas plans. Don’t share it with anyone, not even Grandma’s great nieces, nephews, etc. Make sure your friends don’t post anything on Facebook about your Christmas plans.
The story is…
- David, Kristin and Kendall are flying to Alabama for Christmas on December 22
- Bill will be leaving for Philadelphia on December 26
- David and Kristin are returning home to Maryland without Kendall. (this part wasn't true - I just wanted to see if they read the email)
Facebook was my big worry. I had told many of my friends in Jasper about the surprise. Oh my gosh, why did I do that! What if they posted something on my Facebook Timeline? I didn't want my siblings to see any posts, I couldn't unfriend them - oh, the agony! What if our "cover" was blown?
My sister, you know, the one that complains I never post? would be the biggest challenge. We talk EVERY DAY! Oh the LIES, that I told.
- "Kendall was going to decorate our tree when she got here, that is why I hadn't put our tree up."
- "Cookie baking? Oh, the boys don't know that they are going to make their own cookies."
- I always mail Christmas gifts for my sisters to Sue because she hosts the Christmas party every year. I packaged and shipped their Christmas gift just I have always done in the past. Everything had to appear "normal." I shuddered when Sue said she was going to mail a gift to Kendall (our granddaughter) to my house because she knew they would be celebrating Christmas with us. I ended up bringing her gift to Ohio after Sue paid to ship it to Alabama.
We flew to Columbus on the very day I said the kids were arriving in Alabama. It seemed like a very long flight. I had fallen the day before our trip and I was in agony. I hid the amount of pain I was in and kept smiling as I engaged with my three nieces that live in Columbus. I wanted to have a joyous Christmas; I didn't want my pain to spoil anything.
Sue knew something was wrong, she could tell in my voice. I said I was okay. The next morning she called to see how I was doing. I told her I was going to go to urgent care because of the pain in my back and neck. What does my sister do? She calls Jim, Jim tells her, I have a migraine and I am going to urgent care. I had just told Sue; ten minutes ago I was going to urgent care because of my back! I didn't know if I should slap my husband silly or ring my sister's neck for checking on me so much. For the past two days, Sue kept insisting that I unwrap her gift to me - she said it would help my back. I told her I wanted to unwrap it on Christmas Day. Little did she know, I had unwrapped it the day it arrived at my home. It was a heated throw.
So many times I almost gave up the Christmas Surprise. Christmas was so close!
It was FINALLY Christmas Day!!! We shared Christmas morning with Jim's mother and we headed to Akron to surprise my family.
It is a Casto Christmas tradition that all the siblings spend Christmas afternoon at my sister Sue's home. You know Sue' she is the one that complains I haven't posted anything on my blog. The last time I talked to Sue on the phone was Christmas morning. I told her the kids were still asleep and I hadn't opened her gift yet.
God answered my prayers' I didn't want the two-hour drive to be in the middle of a snowstorm. Thank you Jesus, it wasn't snowing. We packed up in two cars and left. It was getting down to the wire, the siblings were gathering at 1:00. What is a sibling was running late and saw us driving on the highway!? I was freaking out. I told the kids to keep looking straight, avoid eye contact with every car on the road.
We drove passed my sister's, no one was outside. I couldn't believe that in just moments we would all be walking in the door. We pulled up in their driveway and quietly got out of the car. I called my sister on her cellphone as we entered the house. I had told my sister I would call sometime after 1:00. Wouldn't you know, Sue wasn't answering her phone - THE NERVE!
We walked into the kitchen and unleashed the Christmas Surprise! Everyone screamed, they couldn't believe their eyes! My sister Amy grabbed me and kept screaming! Um....Amy, I can't breathe!! I looked at my sister Sue and saw tears in her eyes. I wanted to hug my sister Sue - you know, the one that has been my rock during this difficult year (Click for story).
The Christmas Surprise was all that I had hoped for.
To my husband, Jim - thank you so very much for making my Christmas Surprise come true. Dear God, I am so lucky!
To my children - thank you for joining me on Christmas Day - a celebration I will hold in my heart forever!
To my special sister Sue - you were the reason behind this Christmas Surprise!
As I write this I am in tears. I only hope you (my blog readers) had a wonderful Christmas, as wonderful as I did! I cannot express words how blessed I feel today!