Thursday, December 5, 2019 started off like any ordinary day, but ended with an epic surprise. On this day, the noise lost, noticing won and I went to bed that night with a fulfilled heart.
It was a get up, get the kids to school kind of morning. After school, the kids came in from the bus like any other day. They emptied their lunch boxes and backpacks. They rummaged the pantry + refrigerator for snacks. They hustled to maximize relaxation time before chores and homework. It was like any other afternoon.
Levi had left some trash in my Jeep, so I told him to go out and get it before he could have a snack. Well, he didn’t come back in with the trash…
Instead, he came back in with 3 beautiful gift boxes.
One for Kendall. One for Levi. One for Mom and Dad. Each tag read: OPEN IMMEDIATELY.
We opened the boxes and found pajamas.
Pajamas? Matching pajamas? What in the world?!
There was a letter in Mom and Dad’s box from Edgar Elf. Edgar is our personal elf who usually visits the kids on Christmas Eve with pajamas, a movie and a book. He usually plays doorbell ditch and his gift prompts the kids to get ready for bed. This year, he showed up early with good reason…
Click here to for the video where Kendall reads the letter (sorry for the poor filmmaking).
Or skip listening and read it here:
Dear Masse Family,
I’ve noticed the… family pickles you’ve had lately.
Dad has been working too much.
Mom has been a little too yell-y.
Kendall has been sassy and disrespectful to mom, dad and Levi.
And Levi has purposely been picking on Kendall and throwing fits for mom & dad.
Tripp is the only one with EXCELLENT BEHAVIOR!
WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!
Usually you guys are my easy family.
Dad and Mom are usually a lot more fun.
Kendall usually is patient and most respectful to her family.
Levi usually has a big heart to give to Kendall and mom and dad.
Before Santa officially puts you all on the naughty list, I wanted to give you a chance to remember the Christmas spirit. Beyond the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the spirit within you makes this season magical. It’s not about what you get. You create the magic.
Practice kindness and consideration. Your family, together, is a team. You don’t fight against your team, right? So, treat your family like you’re playing for the same team… because you are.
So today, go on an adventure together.
All of you must wear your Christmas PJ’s as a reminder of the Christmas spirit.
Dad needs to drive. Have mom put in this address in her GPS: 45 Mitchell St., Bryson City, NC 28713
Parking has been pre-paid. You’ll know what to do when you arrive… in the meantime, enjoy the mountains and pizza for dinner… Oh, speaking of… Kendall and Levi need to give $5 each towards dinner. Dad, you’ll pay for the rest. Mom’s already paid for the fun. This adventure is only possible because you’re playing like a team.
You’ll be up late, so you must hurry and get your homework + chores done before you go. Go fast, but do your best work. Remember, be kind, and hopefully I’ll return on Christmas Eve.
We all got to work right away. The kids were happy to do their chores and homework. We were out the door and ready to go.
I’ve never seen them so quiet in the car. I’ve never seen the kind of excitement that silences children before!
After 2 1/2 hours of driving, we pulled into a parking lot in Bryson City, North Carolina. We saw more families wearing matching pajamas.
We saw a mural with two trains… we were getting warmer.
As we rounded the corner, we saw it: The Polar Express.
Was this our adventure? We still weren’t sure.
We stepped into the Depot and the lady behind the counter asked, “Name please?”
Four tickets for the 8:15 p.m. train were waiting for us… one golden ticket for each kid. The kids were ecstatic (more so than this photo shows ha!)!
There’s something extra magical about going on an adventure when you’re supposed to be in bed—getting a good night’s sleep for school the next day.
With the rebellion of the status quo in the air, we boarded the train promptly at 8 p.m. There were 4 chocolate bars waiting for us at our table on the first-class, Michigan train car.
The crew lightly performed scenes from the movie. We received hot cocoa in souvenir Polar Express mugs, chocolate chip cookies, and a visit with Santa—where he gave each one of us one of his sleigh bells.
As the Polar Express came to an end, we double checked our pockets for holes…
…and thankful we each heard the ring of the bell that night.
We got home after midnight. Kendall fell asleep on the ride home. Levi threw fits being overtired. I wound up in the backseat between them. Both were fine for school, but Levi was overtired the next night. Still, the adventure, on a random Thursday in December, was WORTH it.
I don’t do it often, but I love planning surprises.
In the background of working, the day-to-day, stress… all the noise we all live everyday… planning a surprise means there’s something wonderful brewing that the noise can’t touch.
This surprise began 2 months before it happened.
The noise lost. Noticing won.
Maybe the kids will remember this night in their childhood memories, maybe they won’t. The point is, as much as I did this for them, I did this for me too—for my spirit.
I felt alive and intentional as I created something meaningful and the noise faded away into the background.
My friend, the noise will always be there, but the little nudges of opportunity… the ones we put off… give us purpose in surviving the noise. Following the nudges renews your soul. They don’t have to be as grand as an adventure onto an expensive train ride, they just have to be on purpose and acted upon (good intentions don’t count).
So, show up at your husband’s work for lunch. Make an extra special dessert just because it’s Tuesday. Send a letter to someone you’ve lost touch with. Bring your neighbor dinner. Let the kids stay up ridiculously late on a school night.
Go create magic.