It seems like ages ago now, but just over two weeks ago, I bundled the kids into the van, and carried them off to the airport. I spent half an hour lying through my teeth about the purpose of the expedition, telling them that we were collecting a parcel for a friend, whose mother had sent it from Toronto. There was some grumbling about having to go somewhere other than the summer camps, but the general air of oblivion remained intact, and by the time we got to the airport I was almost hyperventilating with excitement. Of course, there was no parking to be found anywhere remotely near the doors, so I drove up and down the aisles, starting to panic slightly that the plane had already landed and we wouldn’t be there to greet them. I found a space miles from Arrivals, and whooshed the kids along at a breakneck speed, mumbling about The Parcel and how we couldn’t Miss It. We tumbled in the doors and legged it to the Welcome to Saskatoon desk, where a lovely lady called Marlene intercepted us.
“So, who are you meeting today?” she asked, with a bright smile. I floundered. “Em, we’re, eh, collecting a parcel”, I said gaily, edging her away from where the children were standing. She looked puzzled, opened her mouth to redirect us to the Canadian Post Office Service, and narrowly escaped having my hand clamped over her face. “It’s a surprise!”, I hissed, “we’re meeting my sister and her family and the kids don’t know!” “Ooh!”, she said, delighted, and proceeded to hand out candy and balloons. We walked over to the Arrivals Gate and the children started playing with the balloons, while I stood there with my eyes glued to the doors.
“HI!”, boomed a voice behind me, and I found myself looking at a complete stranger, who started shaking my hand enthusiastically. “I’m Rick, from the Church! Thanks so much for helping out with the First Communion classes!” “Oh, hi!” I managed to muster, looking frantically from him to the double doors. “Who are you here to meet?” “My wife”, he said, grinning from ear to ear. “She’s been away for two weeks. What about you?” I did my whole muttering explanation again, and we turned to watch the Doors together, chatting away without looking at each other. An eternity passed. People started trickling through. I turned into a swivel-eyed maniac. Rick kindly pointed out the box of tissues attached to one of the pillars beside us. His wife arrived, to a bone-crunching hug, a red rose, a lingering embrace and gooey smiles. It was really romantic, but for the fact that they were blocking my view and my teeth were starting to grind. They moved before I had to rugby tackle them, and I caught a glimpse of Eddie at the top of the stairs. “Quick!”, I semi-shrieked at the kids. “Come and help me watch for the Parcel!”. Marlene was lurking in a corner, watching the action. They trooped over, grumbling again. Liz, Eddie, Sam, Abbie and Jennifer walked through, Liz wielding a video camera to catch the reactions.
They were stunned. Shell-shocked. Speechless. The subterfuge was completely worth it. “But Mam said you were a parcel“, Isabel kept saying. I cried my eyes out and held on to Liz, who valiantly continued to film. She’s a trooper. Everyone hugged except for Jennifer and Rebecca, who stood to one side with their heads together, continuing the conversation they had broken off last August. Marlene beamed and dispensed more candy and balloons. Baggage was collected, the car was hired, the seating arrangements were fought over, and we headed for home, and the great Saskatoon Adventure.