Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Christmas Surprise

Author:  Susan L. Prince

About two months ago I began playing with the idea and plotting logistics.  It was then that I first realized that Christmas was on a Friday and then it dawned on me that the weekend after Christmas would fall on the work rotation that would normally be my weekend off.  I am a retailer however, and so many times during the holidays, it is virtually impossible to get any significant time off.  This has been accepted by my family and has been ever since I started a retail career in 1995. 

I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about surprising my parents on Christmas Day by showing up unannounced if my work schedule allowed for it and she said "do it!"  Being a Northeast Ohio native though, I also know that more plays into a trip up north than just a work schedule and that would be having to add the familiar phrase "weather permitting" as a coda to every travel plan. 

So I watched to see if I would indeed have Christmas weekend off, and when it was apparent I was going to, I started to watch the extended weather forecast.  I also needed to make arrangements to spend the night somewhere on the way to Ohio on Thursday night in order to get some miles behind me and get an early start Christmas Day to arrive with enough time to visit with my parents.  It is a ten hour drive from Humboldt, TN to Medina, OH, and I lose an hour on the way up, so I was hoping to arrive late afternoon. 

I was being particularly careful not to tell many people about my plans because I really didn't want somebody to accidently "forget" that it was a surprise to my parents and say something on Facebook.  Very few were aware and that helped to keep the secret under wraps.  I also had to find out if my parents had plans for the holiday, which they did, but that was all taking place on Thursday, Christmas Eve, when my sister and her family were going to be visiting.  So, Christmas Day was all clear!

Mom called me earlier in the week and I asked "so what are your plans for Christmas" and she told me that they were going to have a quiet day at home.  She asked me what my plans were and almost threw me off when she said "I suppose you have to work on Saturday".   Knowing I was not working and not wanting to lie to Ma,  I fumbled my reply a little bit but mustered an "uhh, I have plans for Saturday".   Whew.

My friend's parents live in Nashville and welcomed me into their home late Christmas Eve.  They didn't just offer me a bed for the night, they welcomed me with smiles, hugs and love.  What totally blessed me was that Ellen's mom and dad both rose early in the morning, 6:00am, to see me off.  Not only that, her mom cooked a great breakfast and we all ate together before my trip.  Who would have thought that we would all be up that early on Christmas Day when there were no children under the age of 37 in the house!  LOL   I left well rested and well fed.  It was an awesome beginning to my Christmas Holiday.  I was so excited and felt overwhelmed by the blessings I had already received that morning and I hadn't even left for home yet.

On my way to Ohio I started heading north on 65 toward Louisville.  I was talking with my friend on the phone while she headed to work in Jackson.  We were disconnected at some point and then I got a call from my mom.  She was calling to wish me Merry Christmas and she told me that she wished that someday I'd be able to make it home for the holidays, but understands it isn't so easy when one works in retail.  She asked what I was doing and I said that I was driving "home" from a friend's house in Nashville.   She assumed I meant to my home in Humboldt, TN, but I was meaning my home, HER HOME, in Medina, OH!  That was fun!  I was playing with words and she had NO CLUE!  I sure did enjoy that!

So, I drove and drove and drove for eight hours.  I was good until I hit Columbus, OH and then the drive was getting long and I was anxious to just get there.

A couple of hours later, when I was finally in Medina County,  I tweeted "I wonder what my ma is doing?" to which she responded "Was just wondering what Sue was doing. I am watching a little TV and crocheting.....oh, and missing Sue!"

She had NO IDEA that in a few minutes I was going to be knocking on the door and that I would be spending the rest of Christmas Day with her!

I got to the house and pulled in the driveway.  Because the living space of their house is at the back, I did not fear that they would see and/or hear me pull in, so as soon as I turned off the ignition in Janeway, I went up to the front door, sent a tweet "About to blow my parents' mind! First Christmas in 15 years that I am home and they have no idea I am at the door!" and rang the doorbell.

I stood a bit to the side so that I would not be seen through the window to the right of the front door.  The door opened but I could not be seen, nor could I see in, because there was a wreath on the outside screen/storm door in the line of sight.  I poked my head into the middle of the wreath and looked up to see my dad standing there.

I immediately said "Merry Christmas" and dad looked a little confused.  He had no idea to expect me to be there, so it caught him off guard, just for a split second, and then he exclaimed "SUE!"   He quickly worked to unlock the door and let me in and Ma, having heard dad say "SUE!", made her way from the kitchen to the foyer to greet me.  Dad gave me a big bear hug that only dad's can give.  It was a sweet moment.

Both of my parents had tears welling up in their eyes and then Ma had her chance to hug me.  Then Dad hugged me.  Then Ma hugged me.  I was getting passed back and forth!   It was AWESOME!  It felt so good to be in their arms!  I WAS HOME!

We were all so happy to see one another that not many words were spoken in those moments, so we just held on to each other.  One of the most favorite moments of my life for sure!

Then Ma had to go get the camera and post this pic on FB and captioned it "Oh my gosh, Sue just walked in the front door!"  

This Christmas surprise is one that won't easily be forgotten!  Oh it was fun!

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad!

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