Jumping out of a box with a big red bow – Classic Christmas Surprise for the Canadian Family

Here I am comin’ at ya with a Christmas post mid-January. Just when you thought it was all packed away. Admit it though – you’re like me and have only cleared your house of maybe three-quarters of your Christmas decorations. And you’re kinda sad it’s all over til next year, so before you go getting your elf on and recommence your Christmas countdown, prolong this year’s cheer with this post. It’s all about how we surprised our family by flying from Italy to Canada two days before Christmas, and announced our arrival by jumping out of great big Christmas-papered box with a big red bow. Epic, eh?!

That enough Christmas for ya?! A house in the city I grew up in.

That enough Christmas for ya?! A house in the city I grew up in.

Rewind to one October evening when I was sulking over my pizza as my sister was sending me more (loving) guilt-trip texts about how I won’t be there in Canada to hold my first nephew when he’s born in December. Halloween was in the air, so it’s only natural to start thinking about Christmas already, right?! The husband notices my poutiness over the pizza and asks what’s going on. I go on a rant about how it isn’t completely unfeasible to at least consider the possibility of maybe being in Canada for Christmas, with a bullet-pointed list of reasons why it should be that we at least try to weigh the costs of getting there. I was dealt back a very simple “no, we just can’t do both – go now and go in the summer in Canada.” I kinda expected that, and my not-so-convincing arguments for why we should go only demonstrating my existing knowledge of how our financial means were not exactly giving us a “go” for two tickets taking us to the other side of the globe in a high season.

Not enough euros and dollars in this piggy.

Not enough euros and dollars in this piggy.

I could have repeated and exaggerated and huffed and puffed all I wanted about the reasons why we should find the means to get there this year (and I did!) but it wouldn’t change that crucial part of things. It was clear that Alessio was also pained to have to forfeit the idea of a Christmas in Canada too, being that he obviously wanted to meet his first nipote (nephew) too, see family who he hadn’t seen in 2 years, and that he loves Christmas in Canada (“you feel it so much more there,” he claims), but being the responsible, caring guy he is, he hugged me as a whimpered and encouraged me to look forward to summer. I had to let it go.

A couple of days pass and husband starts jotting down some numbers. He showers, comes out, and plainly states, “I think we can do it.” I blink at him silently. “I mean, I think we can find a way to go Cana….” ME: “DAAAAAAAA! YEAAAAAH!” We hug and twirl and get to flight hunting online. While we’re on the subject, if you’re a super human ninja at finding good deals on flights from Italy to Western Canada, I need you to teach me your miraculous ways, please and thank you.

November and December were both exciting and sort of painful months, being that we were counting down days to departure, but I was fibbing to my family time after time. Feeling guilty yet gitty about it all at once. I mastered a mischievous chuckle that shall forevermore slip out when I am up to no good or being very, very sneaky.

Mom, sister, grandma, auntie and uncle, brother…each of them pleaded on some level that we somehow find our way to the my motherland this Christmas. My response was always that we couldn’t do both winter and our planned summer trip, and that we were going to Milan to be with Alessio’s family again this year. “Oh, but this way the baby will be more interactive when we finally get to meet,” I’d say. “We will have a longer visit in summer to look forward too.” One day, my sister blurted: “it’s not like you guys are just gonna surprise us all and just randomly show up at Christmas dinner, are you?” I froze for just a second, then got back in the game: “sorry, sis.” Well, that time wasn’t technically a lie. We were gonna show up 2 days before Christmas dinner, heh heh heh! (that’s my devious laugh, right there)

So mom went and printed a photo of me and Alessio to add to the table so that we were accounted for at the feast (seriously, I saw it in person), whilst we collected a few items to pack in our bags and put under the tree for the family. The box we jumped out of was just too big! Even though my mom’s tree is always awesomely HUGE.

December 23rd and my dear friend Amanda so kindly picks us up at the airport. We were powered by pure adrenaline alone since we were so beat from working right up until the day we left, and the 20-hour journey in getting from Florence to Vancouver involving a taxi, 3 flights, a car ride, and a partridge in a pear tree (one of these things is not like the other!). Of course no sleep like kids on Christmas eve the night before departure, but that could also be due to the fact that we had to leave the house at 4am to make the flight. No complaints though! Things were going off without a hitch. Amanda had our backs and our bags at the airport and we managed to stuff our suitcases in her car trunk along with a large, dismantled cardboard box. We drove to mom’s first, praying she’d happen to be home. I was texting her and other family members from the airport arrival’s terminal, pretending to be in Italy and just be curious about what each one was up to that evening. Mom was last-minute Christmas shopping but gets super grinchy at the mall during holiday season, so I knew she would be in and outta there quicker than Santa could eat his cookies, therefore giving us good chance on catching her at home.

We pulled up on to mom’s street and assembled the giant box. Covered it in shiny gift wrap. Slapped on a big red bow. The perfect amount of Christmas cheesiness. Wait, wait, something was missing. Music. Downloaded “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” to play from inside the box when the family fixed their eyes on the big wrapped box. The Michael Bublè version, naturally, staying in tune with the Vancouver-style theme, since that is where Signore Bublè is from. He also has been elected the Italian-Canadian of the year before! So it was fitting.

We would have liked to surprise the close family members all in one big round, but it was impossible to get them all in the same place at the same time! We pulled all the strings we could, trying to arrange for a “Christmas Skype date” and such, but in needing to keep to realistic time changes (when we arrived in Canada it was like 4am Italy time, so that wouldn’t have made much sense), and with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas season going on in everyone’s lives, we managed to work it in into 4 rounds: first mom, then sister and her hubby, doggie, and sweet new baby!, then in the morning we got grandma and auntie, then uncle and brother. Four times the fun!

Thankfully my tiny mamma drives a big truck so we could throw the present box in the back as we played Santa and delivered this special gift to each household. It was one of the best gifts ever for me too, seeing the delight in each family member’s face as we popped out of the box! (You’ll see in the video that the Gina-in-the-Box is a little hyper-exuberant when she pops out, haha!) And then, of course, finally getting to hold my sweet one-month old nephew in my arms was a wonderful gift as well.

We're already making each other smile :)

We’re already making each other smile 🙂

Connor time










Enough writing about it. It’s time for you to grab a tissue and watch the video sequence of our Christmas surprise in a box!

What’s the best Christmas gift you ever received? Ever gave? I hope you enjoyed “the present of presence” with loved ones this past holiday season and all throughout this new year!




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