The Best Christmas Present Ever..
In 2006 Andrew and I decided to take 5 kids to Europe! Well why not I hear you say, sounds like a great idea...
Well you would be right, it was. No we couldn't afford it. Yes it was expensive. Yes it was very hectic. Yes it was crazy busy and yes, we loved it!!!
I wanted to show my children the world, I wanted them to gain the richness of experience and I was determined to make it happen. My children from my first marriage were growing so quickly and soon would be adults, it was time to act if I was ever going to do it. It was 2006 and I had just had a baby with my new partner, Andrew, life was beyond crazy, hectic and stressful. However, I really wanted to take my older children overseas at least once. I had hoped that by doing this I would be able to show them that there was so much more to life than just where they lived. I wanted to show them they could do anything they wanted. I wanted to introduce them to travel, something I had barely been able to do myself. Not only is travelling great to show how other people live, it also helps to appreciate what we have and the lucky country we live in.
Andrew was extremely supportive of this crazy notion and we went into secret planning mode. We tried to pull money out of anywhere and everywhere we could think of, to this day I will never figure out how we managed to do that. We worked very hard and eventually scraped together enough money to pay for all seven return tickets to Europe. Still we didn't tell the children. Planning was going into overdrive in the background, yet all along the kids suspected nothing.
Finally Christmas 2006 arrived and the surprise was all set to go, we were bursting for the children to find out. Each of the four older children found a large present with their name on it under the Christmas tree that Christmas morning. Excitedly they started ripping into their gifts. Unfortunately they weren't as good at hiding their utter disappointment when they each discovered they had pretty much the same present, an unappealing suitcase. They weakly smiled and slowly began moving on to other presents.
Ever so quietly, as I was filming the whole thing, I made mention that if I were to get a suitcase I would have looked inside... The squeals of delight started as they each raced to see who would open their case first. Ear piercing screams broke the stillness of the room when one by one they realized that inside their suitcase was an itinerary listing all the things they would be doing on their surprise 2007 holiday to London and France! Baby Ethan screamed in fright as the room erupted, cries of delight and excitement took over and the atmosphere changed dramatically. Tears were running down our eyes as the full weight of what we were all about to embark on began to sink in.
I'm chalking that one up as the best Christmas present ever...