“Don’t you know where you’re going?” Hannah pipes from the back seat.
“Really, Billy, what is wrong with you? You’ve done this drive your whole life? You can’t remember what exit to get off?”
“I was thinking about something else. I totally spaced.”
I can’t look at him. We’ll get caught.
“This is it. This is the exit.” Billy states.
“Dad, you are too far north. This exit has us north of Hancock.”
I know Hannah is on her phone and she’s pulled up maps. She’s on to us.
Billy is driving on in the Vermont darkness. He takes us up Warren Mountain Road. Dark, steep, unpaved. The car is silent again. The girls trusting their Dad.
“Dad, go straight. At the next stop sign, a few miles up, take a left. That’ll get you to Warren center.” Hannah tries to take charge.
“Ah, yeah, your right Hannah. I got it.”
I still can’t look at him. A shake of excitement is building in my belly.
A quick glimpse of Warren Center all dressed up in small town Christmas glory and we find ourselves in familiar territory.
Billy whispers, “Let’s just take a look up here.”
I know where he is going. The girls do not. I am waiting for one of them to pipe up and ask, “Why are we going up to Sugarbush? Why aren’t we going to Debbie and PJ’s.” No one asks.
Billy slows down and pulls into the Sugarbush Inn. “I think this is where we need to go.” He parks and exits the car.
“What is he doing?” Hannah snaps. She’s hungry and slightly confused. She doesn’t know. I know.
I let a grin out. She can’t see me, thankfully.
The four of us remain in the car. Grace is obliviously asleep. Megan knows something is up. And Hannah, she’s a wee bit aggravated, I can tell.
Billy hops back in the car holding two keys and an envelope of literature.
“Wait, wait, wait a minute…did you guys finally buy a condo on the mountain?” Hannah is becoming aware.
Grace wakes up, “What is going on? Where are we? Why are we at Sugarbush?”
“We didn’t buy a condo but we do have a condo on the mountain for two nights. Merry Christmas.”
“What?” Grace is half awake confused.
“We are staying on the mountain? We aren’t going to Debbie and PJ’s?” Grace is getting it, waking up.
“Thank you!” Megan yells from the way back!
“You got me.” Hannah confesses with childhood Christmas satisfaction.
And with that, Billy and I have our best gift. The gift of surprise for our children at Christmastime.