A surprise family reunion this Christmas

christmasFOR families separated by thousands of kilometres, there’s nothing better than rocking up unannounced for a surprise reunion.

CHRIS Stephenson hadn’t seen his family in more than three years, after moving to Sydney’s Surry Hills from Newcastle, England.

When he suddenly turned up at a restaurant in a surprise Christmas visit home, arranged with help from his sister (and filmed by her), his Aunty Lou leapt up and went wild in the background (“He’s come all the way from Australia!”).

But in the foreground, a static, silent woman cups her hands to her mouth in utter shock. It’s his mum, Joan.

“For a good few seconds she just plain refused to believe it was me,” he says.

“Everyone was immediately ‘Oh my God, Chris is here’ but it was like mum wouldn’t believe it ’til she could touch me and physically feel I was there.”

Mr Stephenson, 40, is one of a number of international expats who’ve filmed their surprise trip home, providing some of the most tear-jerking and life-affirming footage you’re likely to see this festive season.

“Christmas is such a special family-based time. I knew how much more special it’d be for the family, and myself, if I was there. I remember no anxiety at all … just an overwhelming need to be there with them,” he says.

Normality resumed shortly after the shock. “After the filming, there was a lot of talk about how it was organised etc.

But also lots of worrying there wasn’t enough food in the house. (Ridiculous: if 10 of us had turned up there’d still be enough Christmas food in our house.)

I also remember how quickly everything settled down back to normal.

Families are like that I think … like a lake, you can throw a pebble into the water but after not too long the ripples fade and calm is restored.”