Since the kids were babies, our family has Christmas tradition. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, after the children were snuggled in their beds, James and I would sneak upstairs and whisper, “We’re going crazy.” They would scream in delight as we picked them up, carried them down to the warm car. They would drink hot chocolate and eat popcorn while we drove around town singing Christmas songs and looking at the lights.
They got older, and the cheers turned to groans each year when James and I succeeded in surprising them. They would try and come up with all kinds of ways to remember for next year. James and I would wait for the perfect night to catch them by surprise.
In 2015 and 2016 the kids flipped the tables and surprised James and me. You can read about that here. This year, I wondered how we could surprise the kids since they are living away from home.
Going Crazy 2017
On December 4th, James and I picked Catie up from the airport after her three-month internship in Germany. Jon was planning to stop by the house and see Catie when we got home. From the backseat of the car her phone rang.
“Mom, Jon can’t make it tonight. Are we free for him to come over tomorrow?” Catie asked.
“Sure,” She hung up, and I peppered her with questions. How was her flight? Was she tired? Was she hungry? We have leftover pizza at home.
As we pulled into the driveway, Jon’s car was there. I smiled as Catie ran and hugged her brother. My family was back together. We stood around the foyer making small talk. Catie sat on the bench by me, Jon leaned back with one foot on the wall and James sat on the stairs.
“I’m tired. But it’s going to be a while until I get some sleep.” Jon said.
“Why is that?” I wondered if he had to go to work this late at night.
“Because we are going crazy.”
I sat silently as the words hit my forehead and sunk into my brain. Then Jon was on the other side of me on the bench, and I was rubbing both my kid’s backs at the same time and trying to hide my ugly-face tears.
They send James and me upstairs to on put our pajamas. Jon opened the door to the backseat of his car and James, and I piled in. The had popcorn, hot cocoa for James and mint tea for me. Jon started the playlist of contemporary Christmas music, and Catie brought up the route list on her phone.
“How did you guys plan all of this with Catie in Germany?” I asked.
“We were trying to figure out how to surprise you and knew you would think Catie would be exhausted after traveling all day,” Jon said.
“Why did you say Jon couldn’t make it?” I asked Catie.
“Jon called to ask me what kind of popcorn and drinks to get. He didn’t realize I was already in the car with you. He caught on and asked me yes and no questions. I pretended to be rescheduling.”
“You guys got me good. Aren’t you tired?” I knew she had woke almost 24 hours ago to begin her trip home.
“I’m fine, Mama.” A typical Catie response. We came to the first house and Jon, Catie and James chatted about what kind of lights they liked. The weather was unseasonably warm at 61 degrees, so we rolled down the windows as we watched the lights dance in sync with the music on the radio.
As everyone chatted, I sat trying to absorb the night. The blur of houses, laughter, cool breezes, warm tea and my babies. Both in one car. I could reach out and touch them at the same time.
Thank you, Jon and Catie, for the best Christmas gift ever. I love you guys to the moon and back.