“Oh … stuffed,” I said as I pushed away my plate. This year’s Christmas dinner was a ham and turkey affair, complete with all the trimmings.
For the moment, the three of us sat silently like stuffed turkeys. The pecan and pumpkin pies now stared at us awaiting their fate.
“Daddy, can we open the special present you got for us?” Cindy asked, breaking the silence.
“Yea, can we, please!” young Bert exclaimed.
“OK,” I said, using this as an opportunity to avoid the dessert temptation for now.
I presented a wrapped wallet-sized box to each child.
They quickly ripped off the silver wrapping paper and opened the small boxes. Their air of excitement changed into confusion and then disappointment.
“Daaaad,” Cindy said, “these are just balloons.”
Bert agreed, dumping his box’s identical contents, twelve unfilled balloons, on the dinner table.
“Bert, Cindy, these are magical balloons,” I said, hoping to quell the disappointment. “Let’s blow them up.”
After considerable huffing and puffing, all twenty-four balloons were filled. A ribbon was attached to each balloon.
Some excitement returned, but Bert and Cindy still were not buying the magical balloon story.
Two dozen inflated balloons were all over the dinner table along with a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie.
“We can sit here, having our dessert, looking at these balloons, or …” I paused and smiled, “we can take the balloons somewhere and see their magic.”
Bert and Cindy looked at each other and then agreed in unison, “OK, let’s see the magic.”
We gathered all the balloons and stuffed them in the car. I returned to the house and wrapped the two pies to take along for the ride.
With a car full of balloons and a pie in each child’s lap we drove away. As we headed down the deserted highway, familiar sounds of “are we there yet?” echoed.
“Daddy, are these really magical balloons?” Cindy questioned with skepticism.
“Yes they are Sweetie,” I said with a grin.
A few minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of the New Horizons Retirement Home.
“OK guys, out of the car,” I commanded. “Put the pies on the seat for now.”
“What are we doing here?” Bert asked.
Cindy responded, “I think Daddy is being silly again.”
Walking down the sidewalk, balloons in hand, I confided, “these really are magical balloons. Now you will see what I mean. We are going to take these balloons and give them to the people who live here.”
Cindy sighed, “that’s no magic. I want to go home and play with my new toys.”
Bert added, “and I want to go home and get dessert.”
Sensing dissent I offered, “we will give these balloons out and then you can decide what to do with the pies. Besides, don’t you want to see the magic I have been promising?”
The three of us entered the home’s double front door. Several residents were sitting silently, passing the time. When they saw us enter with the multi-colored balloons, smiles began to surface, lighting up the room.
“Cindy,” I requested, “why don’t you give one of your balloons to that nice lady in the wheelchair over there.” I nudged Cindy in the right direction.
“Hi,” Cindy said, “this balloon is for you.”
“For me?” the lady questioned.
The wheelchair-bound resident took the balloon and with a mile-wide smile said, “what a sweet girl you are for giving me such a pretty red balloon.” Cindy grinned, silently appreciating the compliment.
Bert approached another elderly resident and handed him a green balloon. The surprised but happy resident smiled at Bert and said, “you are such a wonderful boy, giving me such a nice present … thank you.”
Bert and Cindy gave out all their balloons. Like sponges they absorbed all the praise and accolades the residents gave them.
Bert then approached me with an idea, “Daddy, I don’t have any more balloons. Can we go get the pies out of the car and give them away too?”
It wasn’t long before Bert and Cindy returned from the car with pies in hand. We rounded up some silverware and plates from the home’s dining room and, one-by-one, Bert and Cindy asked each resident if they would like a piece of pie.
Bert and Cindy served each piece of pie with a genuine and enthusiastic smile. After a short time, both pie pans were empty and we waved good-bye to everyone and left.
As we were walking toward the car, Cindy commented, “Daddy, those really were magical balloons.”
Bert added, “this made me happy, giving my balloons and our pies away to those people.”
The trip home was a happy time for all. Bert and Cindy now knew the balloons were indeed magical. After all, it was magic with dessert.