Fyi… I’ve been trying to post this blog since December 28th! Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of issues with the internet, making it nearly impossible to upload photos. As the internet permits, I’ll be sharing several other exciting blogs from last month. It was such an awesome season of ministry for our family!
Before I share about Christmas morning, I want to express our sincerest thanks to Sonlight Community Church, Romeo United Methodist Church, and Tom & Sharon Snivley. Thanks to their efforts, EVERY child received a backpack, blanket, water bottle, candy, clothes, under garments, school supplies, Bibles, towels, games, and other miscellaneous toys!
Typically, our parties are known well in advance and usually happen right after Christmas. For the first time ever, we decided to change the format for our annual Christmas party. Though the children do receive presents every year, this was the first year where they each had a pile of presents handpicked just for them.
When I grew up, my family had a very special tradition on Christmas Eve. Around 9pm, after the Christmas Eve service, all of us kids put on our pjs and waited together in our parent’s bedroom. This was a treasured time for all of us siblings – as we anxiously awaited Santa’s arrival! We never knew when he would arrive each year, but it usually happened in the early hours of Christmas morning.
There’s nothing like hearing the knock on the door by our parents – exclaiming that Santa had just come! It didn’t matter if it was midnight or 4am, we were wide awake rushing to the living room to see what Santa had brought.
I have carried on that tradition with my own family. All of my kids put their pjs on and head back to my bedroom around 9pm… waiting for that same anticipated knock on the door.
As I reflected on this special tradition, I couldn’t help but imagine what it might be like for us to wake up the campus kids in the middle of the night with news that Santa had come!
I met with Pierre, Momma Gigi, and Tizzie to discuss how we could plan for this very special Christmas surprise! Because my own children would be waking up to Santa’s arrival as well, we really had to strategize on how to pull it off.
I could see the excitement beaming from their faces as we developed our secret plan! They had never been woken up for a surprise – so imagining this for the kids really brought them great joy!
In order for our plan to work, we decided to do our Christmas Eve Service on Sunday. This way, we could spend the 24th decorating the church for the party. We knew if we decorated the cafeteria, the kids would see what we were doing. So we really needed to use the church to pull off the surprise.
Only Pierre, Momma Gigi, Tizzie, Jose, and Malaya knew about our plan. Because I don’t fully trust my own kids with such a big secret like this, I didn’t tell them what we were doing until December 22nd!
On Christmas Eve, my family decorated the church, organized the backpacks, wrapped the blankets, brought down the mattresses, and placed toys in the Christmas trees. We had 2 trees so we could divide the presents into 2 piles – one for the girls and one for the boys.
We brought down mattresses, so they could use their new blankets and lay down to watch Christmas movies.
While my children were still waiting for that special knock on the bedroom door – Jose & I were at the church turning on the colored lamps, setting up the movies, spreading out Malaya’s sugar cookies, pouring the hot chocolate, and turning on the Christmas music.
At 3am we woke up Pierre, Momma Gigi, and Tizzie. Around 3:15am, we excitedly knocked on the bedroom doors – exclaiming that Santa had just visited! The children were startled at first, unsure whether they were waking up to good news or bad news.
(The last time we woke them up in the middle of the night it was due to flooding and they had to go through waist-high water as they walked to the cafeteria which sits on higher ground).
After they realized it was GREAT NEWS – they hurried to the church – screaming in glee! Besides the piles of presents, there was also craft station where they could decorate and wear cardboard ties & party hats. There were sugar cookies and hot chocolate awaiting them as well!
After everyone was settled inside the church, Jose & I walked back home so we could wake-up our own kids with that same great news!
Pierre, Tizzie, and Momma Gigi ran the party from that point on! The presents were passed out one by one. The kids took turns opening their gifts so everyone could watch and cheer for them.
After presents, the kids were allowed to do whatever they wanted! Some of them immediately worked on crafts, some filled up on candy, some were snuggled up in blankets watching movies, while others were playing dominoes/ games that they had just received.
At 4:30am, they were surprised again with a pancake breakfast! The kids remained in the church until just before lunch! They said it was the best Christmas ever and something they will never forget! The staff shared that same sentiment!
Below are some pictures from our Surprise Party! The lighting wasn’t great at 3am, so the pictures aren’t super clear. However, you can still see their smiling faces!
CHRISTMAS PARTY PREP- DECEMBER 24th