“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…” ~ Clement Clark Moore
Do you remember the Night Before Christmas? The children, all tucked in their beds (sugar plums dancing in their heads) as they waited with anticipation for the surprises to arrive the next morning. St. Nick arriving, his belly like jelly, trying to tiptoe so quietly around the house, delivering gifts for others to enjoy. Participating in a Disney Cruise Fish Extender gift exchange is similar: the preparation, the anticipation, the surprise.
Each morning as my children awoke, they jumped from their beds wanting to check their “stocking” to see if any treasures were left the night before. I reminded them that we weren’t officially part of the Fish Extender exchange, but participating as Pixie Dusters, so any gifts we received would be extras shared by generous families. Our purpose was to bless others without expectation of reward.
But oh, how we were blessed in return!
Coloring books with crayons. Personalized drink holders. Flashlights. Stickers. Disney-themed toys. Luggage tags. Bookmarks. Mini game boards. Lanyards. Keychains. Candy. Cups. Lip Balm. Even detergent and stain remover wipes for any emergency laundry needs (which we needed, but didn’t have!)
We received handmade scarves that we wore almost every day. (We didn’t even think about bringing scarves on our trip to Alaska – genius!)
One family even surprised us with a handmade Disney bag which we used every day to carry our souvenirs, toys, and books from on-board activities and excursions.
Sometimes the surprises arrived while we were sleeping; sometimes while we were eating meals. Each and every gift was appreciated, no matter the type or cost.
I was reminded again and again about the kindness of others. Such thoughtfulness was shared with our little family of five. Remember, we weren’t even supposed to receive any gifts at all! I connected with the Fish Extender Facebook group literally three days before we left. And yet… so many families chose to add us to their list and bless us as if we belonged to them from the start.
Even typing this blog post brings tears to my eyes, remembering the overwhelming feelings of love and gratitude.
The gifts continued throughout the week. I was humbled by the thoughtfulness and creativity of others. One family gave an open-faced locket filled with Disney themed charms. I literally gasped with awe when I discovered the jewelry hidden in my Fish Extender pocket.
Another family blessed my youngest child with a handmade super hero cape and mask from The Incredibles which he wore, but refused to pose for a photograph. (“Mommy, pictures take away my powers!”)
My daughter kept meticulous care of her gifts, choosing to empty a clothing drawer so her treasures would be safe throughout the voyage.
We were even surprised with strangers decorating our cabin door with handmade signs and magnetic whiteboards. (Did you know that the cruise ship doors and walls are magnetic?)
I simply cannot thank these strangers enough for the joy they added to our vacation. The entire Fish Extender experience showed my children first-hand the power of “give and receive.” We now have tangible treasures to remember your kindness and stories to share with others. You have woven your thoughtfulness into our family memories which will be retold for generations to come.
You have blessed us beyond measure!
If you are planning to take a Disney Cruise and love the idea of random acts of kindness, I recommend you to join the Fish Extender Facebook Group to get more information. (This is a closed group, so you will need to request to join.) The passengers on my cruise created their own closed group which allowed us to share information on a Google Sheet and post photos/memories from our trip.
A special thank you to the following families for all our gifts received (if I left anyone off the list, please let me know and I will add you!) You truly transformed an already fabulous vacation into something only Walt Disney himself could create.
The Johnson Family
The Miller Family
The Fontenot Family
The Green Family
The Adams Family
The Peauroi Family
The Hanks Family
The Mill-Nap-Hacks Families
The Kennedy Family