Photo by Claire Whitley.
The sun was shining almost as bright as the smiles on the children’s faces at Santa’s Hualapai Wonderland in the Hualapai Mountain Park Saturday.
Hiding in Santa’s Cabin was a surprise for two young children like they never would have believed.
Alexis, 8, and Jeffery Havenner III, 6, were about to get the one thing they have wanted for Christmas this year. Their father, Jeffery Jr., had been away for 14 months serving on a Navy submarine and he was about to walk out of Santa’s workshop.
Jeffery Jr., an E5, said he was excited, nervous and jittery to see his children. The 2003 Kingman High School graduate said it was all Amber’s idea, and she was the one who put the event together.
Amber Havenner, the children’s mother, said the idea for this surprise came up when they were shopping for Christmas presents. She said Jeffery III looked up at her and asked if they could put all the presents back and just buy plane tickets to see Dad.
“We thought that since they were willing to sacrifice their presents to see their dad, we should do something special,” Amber said. “He just wants Santa to go talk to the Navy and let them see Dad.”
Amber said she was already planning on bringing the children up to see Santa, and Jeffery Jr. knew he was finally getting some leave time, so it all just worked out perfectly.
“I’m excited, I can’t wait to see the look on their faces,” Amber said. I imagine it is just as hard on him as it is on them.”
Santa strolled by and introduced himself to the family and asked what Alexis and Jeffery III wanted for Christmas. Both responded they wanted to see “Daddy.”
Jeffery Jr. stepped out onto the porch, and both children took off and ran into his arms. The crowd was in a mixture of tears, cheers and laughs.
It was just what Alexis and Jeffery III wanted for Christmas.
“This time of year, it’s not about the presents or the food. It’s about the relationships you have and the people you have in your life,” Amber said. “Count the little blessings, be grateful for the little things in life.”
Jeffery Jr. said he is grateful for the community and those who helped, especially with everything that is going on.
Both Alexis and Jeffery III said they got everything they wanted for Christmas, and the family headed into the Hualapai Wonderland to explore all it had to offer.