Under the Tree

By Kathy Bromley

The party was last night, the house has recovered and the table is set for Christmas breakfast. Shannon has had her bath, her hair blow dried and her dinner is almost run through. All the presents are wrapped and under the tree. Typically I would know what is in every one of the wrapped parcels except the ones addressed to me. This year is different, this year Shannon’s friends took her shopping.

Last Sunday Shannon met Sarah at the Skytrain and the two of them met up with Hilary and Brynn at the mall. Hilary, Brynn and Shannon went one way while Sarah, with her cell phone close at hand, went on to do some of her own shopping. Although Shannon and her friends have grown up together they have never been in a position where they are on their own together, without an adult right beside them. The truth, of course, was that Sarah was shopping in the same mall and all it would have taken is a phone call to unite the two groups.

shannon 21

There were questions. “What if she beeps?” Sarah assured them that Shannon’s feeding pump was turned off. “What if she rolls down the stairs?”. Easy one, keep her away from the stairs. Sarah and I both know these girls are more than capable of being alone with Shannon, they have spent a lifetime together and know how to interpret her facial expressions better than anyone. Equipped with Shannon’s bank card the three girls started off to do Shannon’s Christmas shopping, to make sure that Shannon was the only one in the family to know what was wrapped inside the packages she was giving.

We were asked for a list through Facebook, Rob and myself as well as Michael and Alannah. The friends met at the mall as soon as it opened and were done by 2:00pm. When I picked Shannon, Hilary and Sarah up from the Skytrain, Shannon was smiling from ear to ear. The girls had made the smart decision to have the gifts wrapped at the mall so all they needed were name tags.


Tonight all the gifts are under the tree, Shannon’s are front and centre, we’re all very curious as to what she chose for us, including Austin, and it will be difficult waiting until the morning. Tomorrow, for the first time ever, we will open gifts from Shannon that she bought without our help. We didn’t buy them and put her name on them, we didn’t wrap them, we have no idea what she bought us and all with her own money. When we open them tomorrow I’m sure she’ll be smiling again. A surprise for Christmas, the way it should be. Thanks girls for giving Shannon this independence, it’s making us all smile.


Austin’s gift had to be put away, he was unable to leave it alone!


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