On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
The big reveal:
A trip to Disney!!!
Yep, we are Florida bound.
After a half a year in the making we surprised the kids on December 23rd with their combined Christmas gift:
A family vacation to Walt Disney World.
It has been a killer secret to keep, especially because of the added red tape of having to get permission at our most recent court hearing to take Brandon out of school and out of state (since he isn’t adopted yet.) We didn’t tell anyone beyond those who had to know… like the judge, lawyers and social workers, but I lived in fear that someone at court would spill the beans and ruin the surprise.
In the months leading up to Christmas we made plans for the big reveal.
This is the third Disney surprise reveal we have done for the kids. The first occurred when the oldest three kids were 13, 11, and 9. We waited until they were at the perfect ages, with the thought it would be a one-time vacation.
The next few years brought the adoption of Tyler and then Ozzie and we couldn’t let the magical experience of a trip to Disney World be an experience reserved for only half our children, so we planned a second trip to Disney World so that the two little boys would get their “once in a lifetime” trip.
Both trips were made known through surprise reveals. Toby loves surprising the people he loves with grand gestures, but because our older kids know how Toby operates, surprising them has become more and more difficult, especially with something as big and complex as a Disney World vacation.
So when we realized that the widow of opportunity to take our entire family to Disney, and allow Brandon to create shared memories with us at one of our very favorite places, we knew it need to happen this year,
And we knew pulling off the surprise would be a tall order!
Grace is almost done with her ASL program and the next year could bring life changes that may take her away from home. Molly is graduating and will most likely be leaving home to go to school or serve a mission. Rusty and Brandon will both be seniors and within the next two years our family structure will most likely change, as kids spread their wings to soar, so this was the time to make it happen…
The question was, “How do we surprise them without them catching on?”
We finally decided that we would plan the big reveal for December 23rd. This decision was based on a few factors.
1. We wanted to surprise the kids with just immediate family around, knowing that good news and special treats can be triggers for some of our kids that feel unworthy of good things, and those feelings sometimes lead to them sabotaging happy events to prevent good things happening to them.
2. We wanted it to be a really special moment for the kids to share. We thought telling them on the 23rd rather than Christmas morning might help our kids that struggle on Christmas Day.
3. We thought that if any of the older kids were suspicious, doing the surprise before Christmas, rather than on Christmas morning might throw them off the scent.
So on the 22nd we slipped away into our room to wrap the presents we had prepared. We had personalized t-shirts made for each of the kids. We ordered each one a draw string bag so they will be able to carry their own water bottles, snacks and personal belongings around the park. In each gift box we also included their magic band and a lanyard with trading pins ordered off Ebay.
We wrapped up their gifts and then in the middle of the night we snuck into the living room and hid the gifts, Disney balloons and the reveal sign inside the trunk in the middle of the living room.
The following day the kids went about their business, using the trunk as a landing spot for gifts and wrapping paper, having no idea the HUGE surprise hiding within… right in front on their eyes!
When our family gift exchange was complete, and the last sibling gift was unwrapped, we told the kids there was one more gift left to unwrap. We explained that we had purchased a gift for the entire family to share but it was too big to transport to the Homestead so we would let them open it early.
They waited with baited breath, expecting us to carry something in from outside, but instead Toby told them that the gift was hidden in the trunk.
We had them gather around the trunk and open it together. This was so we could be in place on the other side of the couch to catch their reaction.
And their reaction didn’t disappoint!
Some fell to the ground, overwhelmed by emotion,
While others stood in shock…their mouths hanging open.
Their reactions brought feelings of love, joy and gratitude for this dear family of mine…
Especially for our 17-year-old addition, who is finally receiving some magical moments after a lifetime of tragedy and loss.
The countdown has begun and I have 6 very excited kids that can’t wait to strap in and head south…
Disney World here we come!