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Holiday Surprise in a Duffle Bag

It’s 9:30 at night.  Cold.  Snow on the ground.  We’ve driven 12 hours for this moment.  We turn our lights off, pull over to the side of the road and park.  Sneak down the street with a big, black duffle bag.  I realize we look quite suspicious, but I assure you, this is an altruistic mission.duffle bag

We peeeeek around the garage door to make sure the coast is clear.  Run fast to the front porch.  Set down the duffle bag.  One very excited 6-year old jumps in.  Zip it closed.  Tape the sign to the front of the bag: “Happy Thanksgiving, George and Nancy!  Open your holiday surprise right here, right now!”

Ring the doorbell.  selfie in front of garage doorsRun fast back to the garage door.  Make one way-t00-giggly 11-year old hide around the corner.  Take selfies with the two boys who are winning the “quiet game.”

Hear the door open.  Hear one grandma wonder if her friends think she needs a dog.  Hear one grandma and one grandpa carefully zip open the duffle bag.  Hear one 6-year old jump out of the bag, “Surprise!”  first hug with grandmaRun around the corner to join them.  Watch two grandparents laugh.  And cry.  And laugh.

Ever since the 1970’s, when our family drove across the country from Washington to Iowa so my sister and I could hide in a refrigerator box on my grandparent’s front porch to surprise them for Christmas, I’ve been a sucker for surprises.  The fun kind.

hugs on front porchNot the un-fun kind where my boys hide behind a corner and jump out at me when I come out of the bathroom.  That’s not fun.  Well, okay, it’s fun for them.  But the best surprises are fun for everyone.

The best of the fun surprises communicate love and appreciation and thoughtfulness.  And they make unforgettable memories.

I suppose not everyone would find it fun to have my family of four boys show up for a holiday unannounced, but thankfully, my in-laws loved their Thanksgiving surprise in a duffle bag.  And we certainly made an unforgettable memory.boys and snowmen

The excitement is over now.  I write in a quiet house where little boys sleep, dreaming of turkey and mashed potatoes, Wisconsin snowmen and a long 12-hour drive home.  I have a feeling they won’t ever forget this Thanksgiving, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the fun of surprising someone they love has gotten into their blood, too.

justin and duffle bagMaybe, just maybe, one day down the road when I’m a grandma, I’ll find a refrigerator box on my front porch around the holidays.  Or a big duffle bag with a little turkey inside.


Who can you send a fun surprise today?  It could be as simple as a few words on a post-it note stuck under a windshield wiper, a favorite treat left on a desk, or an encouraging text.  Give someone the gift of a sweet surprise today.


2 thoughts on “Holiday Surprise in a Duffle Bag”

  1. Heidi, what a wonderful adventure you had. Kimberly had shared it with me at Thanksgiving, and we had a good laugh. George and Nancy seem like wonderful grandparents, and I’m sure this unexpected surprise made their holiday!!

    1. As I’m sure you know, these kinds of adventures are so unforgettable. And yes, George and Nancy truly enjoyed it. It’s a fun story to tell! Thanks, Evelyn!

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