Why I busted out the Ugly Cry on Christmas morning

There’s nothing like a really, really good Christmas morning surprise. You’ve been a part of one, haven’t you? Either on the giving or the receiving end–both are just a ball of giddy excitement. Well, I was on the “opening” end this year and I still have goose-bumps.
See, with our families, we usually exchange gifts around the $25-$35 range. We usually make lists, get something we hoped for, it’s awesome. Sometimes someone throws in a sentimental gift and gets the “awwww!” factor. Or they go off list just for fun. When I saw a special gift tag for our whole family, I thought it might be a cute picture frame or something about Thailand. The accompanying note was to Thai Baby, and it said this gift was for him/her, wishing that all our relatives could be there when Mommy and Daddy meet you, hopefully they’ll take some pictures.
When I tore back the particularly nice wrapping paper, I saw the word REBEL and, in all honesty, my heart skipped a beat. I’m sure my eyes got huge. But then I had this coversation in my head in .6 seconds: “Calm down, Jen. Get real. They used this box to put your ACTUAL gift inside. Don’t embarass them by thinking for a second that the picture on the box is what’s actually inside.” But then I opened more and I saw the box was sealed. Professionally. Then I confirmed and saw the word CANON. And I’m not sure what came out of my mouth, but I remember sobbing and thinking “NO! NO! I CAN’T TAKE THIS!”
It was a strange feeling, this simultaneous euphoria that the gift of my dreams was in my lap with my name on it and also the nausea of knowing the approximate price tag. I’m not kidding–if you had asked me anytime this fall what physical object I wanted more than anything in the world, it would have been a DSLR camera. But Trent and I discussed that it just was NOT going to happen. Broken computer, broken sump-pump, car payments, tuition, adoption fees, California trip, LIFE expenses–just did not leave room or justification for this luxury. Practice contentment, I told myself.
“We know you wouldn’t buy this for yourself,” they said. “It’s our way of supporting your family and your adoption,” they said. “We got a smokin’ hot deal,” they said. “Take really good pictures of our new neice or nephew,” they said. And I looked at these two people, who know me and love me so very well, who know and appreciate how precious family pictures are, and I was just speechless with gratitude and love. Oh, how I love picturing the day when I’m snapping away shots of our little Peanut in Bangkok on this new camera and sending them thousands of miles away to a beaming auntie and uncle. Love, love, love you guys. It’s taken a few weeks to accept it–and I probably won’t ever understand such a generous token, but I KNOW I’ll never forget the feeling of being on the receiving end of a really, REALLY good Christmas morning surprise. 🙂 I don’t know if I can every say “thank you” enough.
PS: Trent’s first words I remember were [deadpan]: “I’m never going to get to touch that, am I?” My response, through my tears [equally deadpan]: “Not for a very, VERY long time.”
I’ve got so much to learn about what my, er, OUR camera can do, but it’s not gonna stop me from playing around right away. Here’s the first round of shots taken of one of my favorite subjects on a morning with just the girls:

This one’s my fave.


  1. Dear Sydney,
    Your hair is pretty. You’re always pretty.

    Also, oh my goodness! What a special gift! Not just the camera but the thought behind it. I would have done the ugly cry too in your shoes. =) In fact, I am tearing up just reading this and picturing you in Thailand picking up your little one. I’m off to get some kleenex! Love you and your family!

  2. I was tearing up as I was reading your blog. What a gift! Treasure it, and take lots of pictures of your kiddos & kiddo to be. I’m sure you’ll think about your aunt & uncle every time you use your camera. Hopefully, someday I’ll have my own as well.

  3. I feel such joy in your blessing of this camera. You wanted one so much. I also feel great joy for the giver who must have looked so forward to giving it to your family.I do understand the ugly cry as I look at the pictures of the 19th of Dec. It’s what happens when our heart is so full and blessed. We will look forward to the “T” family pictures. Loving you always!!!

  4. I was at church the day after Christmas and saw you singing your heart out in the service and there was a special shine in your smile that morning! 🙂

    What an awesome gift – truly selfless. I can’t wait until I have the resources to do that for someone special in my life someday!Thanks for hte story.

  5. Oh yes, the tears were flowing on this post. When I read your post about your point and shoot camera I so wanted for you to have a nice camera. What an amazing gift to give a person who truly will appreciate it. Syndey’s hair is so red and beautiful. It’s amazing the details a good camera can show.

    PS we have the same camera and I love it!

  6. Wait a second…is Ethan hitting on Sydney??

    I love the LOVE that is going all around in this scenario. You are so ecstatic and grateful to these two people you love so much, those people love you so much they wanted to do this for you, these two people love Baby Tompkins so much they HAD to do it. As much joy as you had in opening your dream gift, I am willing to bet they had more! You deserve it Jen!!! None of us can wait for that camera to serve it’s ultimate purpose!

  7. oh, hooray!! 🙂 I am so excited for you! 🙂 Those are awesome cameras! What an amazing gift! How sweet of them to get that for you and for wanting to have wonderful pics of the newest addition to the family! 🙂

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