The BIG Christmas Surprise

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Sometimes it takes doing something CRAZY to realise we should listen to the ‘Why’ rather than the ‘Why Not’. Read about my Big Christmas Surprise here…

For someone who is not a fan of surprises, I have a rather over-zealous mischievous streak and I LOVE to surprise people.  

I just can’t help myself.  

Even when I know it’s probably a really, really stupid idea. 

Like the time I drove for 10 hours to get Molly, our Bernese Mountain Dog, as a surprise for my husband.  Thankfully that turned out well… but it wasn’t my most sensible idea.  Not least because she insisted on sitting on my lap the whole way back, which was like driving with a rhinoceros between my arms.

On the 16th of December 2016 one of my crazy ideas was set in motion.  We were on our way to Heathrow airport to fly to the other side of the world to surprise my parents for Christmas.

On a scale of one (excellent idea) to ten (worst idea ever) I was starting to think this might be an 8 or 9.

Mainly because my parents were currently living on a campsite whilst they waited for their house refurbishments to be finished…

I hadn’t spent Christmas with my parents for six years and it was approaching two years since I had seen them last.  Usually I am fairly hardy and can ‘man-up’ when it comes to the long distance parental relationship, however I was feeling particularly sensitive because in the middle of November I had lost my best friend of twenty years; my cat Charlie.  

Charlie was no ordinary cat. 

And I was no ordinary little girl.

From the minute Charlie arrived on my doorstep, adopted as a kitten from a local farm, we were inseparable.  

Think of the movies and the books where a child and animal befriend each other.  Where they do everything together, spend every moment together, laugh, cry, play and grow up together.  

That was Charlie and me.

Even as an adult, there was barely a moment when I was at home that I wasn’t with him.  From the minute I walked in the door he was up from his chair and asking for a cuddle.  Lonely nights were made better with him sat beside me.  He was a constant source of entertainment, making me laugh on a daily basis with his little quirks, and comforting me with his kind nature whenever I was anxious or sad.

I always knew that losing him would be truly devastating but it had more of an impact than I could have ever imagined and it left a void that I’m not sure I will ever be able to fill.  I miss him and think about him every single day.

Black and white cat sat on his blanket on the sofa in the sun
My cat Charlie

When I lost Charlie, I struggled to tell my parents.  They loved him almost as much as I did and I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my Mum, I had to ask my Dad to. 

After going through such an upsetting time and hearing how sad it made my parents too, I couldn’t shake the thought that all I wanted was to see them.  I missed them more than ever and, despite being a ‘grown up’, I just wanted to hug my Mum and Dad.  

It was at that moment I decided that I wanted to go to New Zealand to see them for Christmas, which was just a few weeks away.  Rob didn’t need much convincing!

It was always going to be a surprise.  

At first we were going to Snapchat them along our journey and see how long it took them to guess where we were headed.

Then we thought it would be a great idea to hide in a box outside their front door and jump out shouting ‘SURPRISE!’.

When we first arrived in their hometown in New Zealand, we spent the afternoon disguised in hats and big sunglasses, wandering around the local supermarkets seeing if we could find a box big enough to hide in but to no avail.

We finally opted for a Santa outfit and the next morning I nervously headed down their driveway in my disguise, carrying a sack of Christmas presents.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  I’ll let you enjoy the video but needless to say it turned out to be the best stupid idea I’ve ever had and is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

Sometimes it takes ‘doing something silly’ to realise how important it is to ignore the reasons ‘why not’ and to instead focus on the ‘why to’; it could just be the best thing you have ever done.

Merry Christmas!


Hi, I’m Tara! I’m taking you on a trip around the world in vegan cuisine and bringing the world’s most delicious dishes to your kitchen.