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Mia executes perfect surprise for Brandon

On Christmas morning, Mia and Brandon sat side by side in the back of a cab. Her mother had spoken with the driver, giving him strict instructions not to leave without them and to keep them safe. She gave him an extra tip for the trouble, which made him happy to comply.

The airport was crowded when they arrived, but the driver managed to find a spot in the short-term parking lot. Mia had put a note in her phone with Mr. Ferris’s arrival time, airline and terminal number, and she checked it to make sure they were still on the right track.

“So, now what?” Brandon asked, gesturing to the crowded terminal. He hadn’t been crazy about the idea of going out on Christmas Day, but because he thought this was a task set by the ornament, he’d wanted to see it through to the end with her.

Mia tried to hide her smile, knowing that Brandon’s Christmas wish was so close to coming true.

“Just wait for now,” she said, but as soon as she’d spoken, it was as though the ornament had other plans. It vibrated gently in her coat pocket, and her stomach fluttered nervously as she opened it. How could it expect her to go complete another task when they were here? They couldn’t risk missing Mr. Ferris.

She looked inside the bulb and found the words “hurry fast toward little feet, danger ahead in the street” staring back at her.

Mia looked up, scanning the crowd of holiday travelers, and it only took a few seconds to spot her.

“Look!” She pointed toward a toddler running toward the large set of open doors that led out to the shuttle parkway. Outside, busy shuttles quickly zipped past, taking patrons to and from their vehicles.

It was obvious the girl was alone. She dragged a stuffed dog behind her as she ran, tears streaming down her face. Everyone was so wrapped up in their own business that no one seemed to notice her.

“Stop! Little girl, stop!” Mia yelled as she took off running. She caught up to the girl just as she reached the doors and snatched her into her arms, holding her tight even as she kicked and wailed in fear.

“My baby!” Mia turned at the frantic scream to see a woman rushing toward her, followed by two security officers and Brandon.

“I had to stop her, she was heading toward the road,” Mia spoke quickly to the sobbing woman as she handed over the little girl.

“Momma,” the girl cried, clutching the woman tightly.

“Oh Lily, my baby girl, I was so scared.” The woman cried into her daughter’s hair, giving Mia a wobbly smile. “How can I ever thank you? You saved her.”

“I’m just glad I was here at the right time. Merry Christmas,” Mia said.

“Merry Christmas to you.” She hugged Mia tight. “I’m so sorry, we’re in a rush. But thank you, thank you so very much.”

She hurried away, Lily waving goodbye over her shoulder. The security guards did a quick check with Mia and Brandon, making sure they were OK.

“Good job, Mia, I’ve never seen you run so fast!” Brandon said. “Was that it? Time to go home now? ‘Cause I’m ready for some presents!”

Mia looked behind him and let out a huge smile.

“Yes, let’s go home. First though, I have a present for you right now.”

“Yeah?” He looked confused.

“Yeah.” She spun him around so that he was face to face with his father.

The look on both of their faces made everything worth it, and her heart swelled as Brandon’s father hugged him tightly. After a moment, he waved Mia into the embrace, and she wrapped her arms around them both.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Brandon said, shaking his head in wonder. “Did you know about this?” he asked Mia.

She grinned so hard her cheeks hurt. “Yes! Everything this morning was just part of the plan to get you here.”

Mr. Ferris slung an arm around Brandon’s shoulders as they headed back outside to the cab. “I know how much you’ve been helping your mom when I’m gone. I wanted to be able to have a little extra time with you and give you a surprise of your own.”

Before loading his bag into the trunk of the cab, he pulled out an envelope and handed it to Brandon.

When they were all seated in the cab, Brandon slid open the envelope and pulled out a handful of tickets, and his eyes widened.

“I know how much you want to go to visit New York City,” Mr. Ferris said. He smiled at Mia — she’d given him the idea. “So next summer, you and I are spending a week there, just us. Your mom and I have already talked about it. Ellie’s just a little too young to really enjoy it, and you deserve it for being such a great help to your mother.”

Mia didn’t stop smiling the entire way home as she listened to Brandon and his dad talk excitedly about all of the things they wanted to do in the city. Having a trip to look forward to with just his dad was exactly the thing Brandon needed, and she couldn’t be happier for him and for the way this morning was turning out.

As they pulled into the Ferris’ driveway, Mr. Ferris turned to Brandon with a grin. “Ready to surprise your mom?”

Brandon grinned back, and Mia gave his hand a squeeze before he got out of the car. “Thank you for sharing my Christmas secret this year. And for sharing the adventures.”

He grinned back. “Thanks for being my best friend.” Mia waved to Brandon’s dad again before the cab started backing out of the drive.

“Go slow, please,” she said to the driver as she stared out the window, watching Brandon’s mom open the front door and throw herself into her husband’s arms. Mr. Ferris bent down and scooped up Ellie, and the four of them were still hugging when they disappeared through the door.

Mia sat back, full of Christmas joy during the short ride to her house. She suddenly couldn’t wait to get there and see her mom and grandma.

Her family might not look like Brandon’s. But they were hers, and she was thankful that she had them, that they all had each other.

She thought about how that evening she would say goodbye to the ornament and fall asleep to its glow for the very last time. She wasn’t sad, but thankful for the gifts it gave her in helping so many in need.

That’s what Christmas spirit is, she thought. It’s a small glow that gets inside you. And each day its light grows and grows until you can’t help but be bursting with its hope and joy.

Merry Christmas to you all. This year, may your hearts be full of Christmas spirit and may you find what we need most of all … hope.

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