On Christmas Day, I received a message on facebook from my cousin Todd. He has been in Iraq and we get to talk through facebook pretty regularly. He was asking for my help. He said that he found out last minute that he was going to be able to take leave and he wanted to surprise our family. So, Alex and I began to conjure up a plan to get everyone together. Alex thought we could tell everyone that Todd wanted to have a family-wide chat through web cams. I began to let everyone know and my grandma booked a place for us to all meet. Everyone thought this was just for a web cam chat except for my brother and parents because I recruited them to help figure out a way to get everyone back together.
The day and time of his arrival changed a few times as I was trying to communicate to the whole family what time to get together. It was nerve racking! I had his mom, BJ, asking a million questions! She had been able to have web cam chats with him in the past and she was greatly concerned that the military was taking away his computer access. So I had to pull a bunch of false hoods out of my rear end.
The day finally arrived that we were all to meet (Tuesday the 30th of December in the evening). Todd called and let us know that his flight got into Little Rock at 2:30 that day. Seth was at our house so he went to the airport and picked him up. We all headed down to New Hope.Alex and I drove down seperate from Seth and Todd so that they could arrive after everyone else. When we got there my grandma Gloria and Brent were there setting up food and drinks. Alex, the girls, and I visited with them for a while as everyone arrived.
We got word that Seth had pulled up with Todd. I was outside when they pulled up and as soon as Todd got out of the truck, I lost it. I was crying and definitely couldn't go back into the building without giving away the big secret. I went down to where Todd was, gave him a hug, and waited until the signal to go in was given. We braced ourselves to shock everyone with our entrance. We threw open the door, with my video camera rolling, AND! We still had another room to go through. Lol. So we went through the next room and I opened the door. I remember seeing Todd's step-dad's face first. He looked completely confused, then shocked, then he looked around to see if anyone else was seeing what he was seeing. Todd's mom screamed at the top of her lungs and ran to him. She leaped in his arms and cried. My granny covered her face in disbelief and sobbed (for a long time). It gives me butterflies just thinking about it. I haven't watched it yet, but I know the film of it all probably looks like we were in the middle of an earthquake with the way that I was shaking. It was a beautful moment. I feel so lucky to have been able to help conjure it all up. :o)
Not all of the family had arrived yet though. Todd's sister, Tricia, and her new baby Ayla(whom Todd had not met) hadn't gotten there yet and neither had his brother, Dallas. Todd was outside when Tricia got there but thank goodness she didn't notice him. She came in and got settled. And then out of nowhere, Todd busts in the room again and her face was priceless. All of her fears, worries, and concern over the months that he had been gone melted right there with him in front of her. She cried and ran to him. He held her suspended in the air for a long time.
Words can not describe how awesome this experience was for our family. He will only get to stay until January 18th but I know that I speak for all us when I say that we are thankful for every moment.
I tried to make the cake patriotic in honor of our troops, but I didn't want to write anything on it that would give away our surprise.
I also would like to mention that all of our family was able to make it except for our cousin Eric, Allison, and their baby Connor. This was the first time that the majority of us have been together at a gathering in a long time. It felt great. But we did miss you Eric, Allison, and Connor!
Just part of the spread.
Strange family that we have. Well, maybe it's just Brent.
Uncle David Coffman and Uncle Ricky McBay
Todd's sister, Tricia, and her baby, Ayla
Brent's step-sister, Amanda, and her baby Layla
Pawpaw Bill and Dallas's little girl, Kristen
I guess this is what a night with our family does to ya.
Once Granny Gloria was able to compose herself and rejoin society. lol
Brent holding baby Ayla. I think that he is able to get so many grins out of infants because they understand that he is on the same wave length as them. Love ya Brent!
Makayla got in on the jam session. Several people brought guitars and sang.All of the kids really enjoyed it. The hot song of the night was "You are my Sunshine"
Tina, Layla, and Jaselyn.
Todd and Dallas's son, Landon
Tricia, Todd, and Ayla
Todd, Tricia holding Ayla, Dallas holding Kristen, Landon holding a box of dinosaurs
Todd holding Landon, Tricia holding Ayla, and Dallas holding Kristen
Abi, George, Boots, and KayKay
Boots and BJ's grandson, Hunter