Ronin Coffelt knew exactly what he wanted for his birthday. Given that, after opening his gift and realizing he wasn’t getting it, he began to cry. However, his tears hadn’t even begun to dry when he had a huge surprise.
Ronin was just one-third of the Coffelt family. His dad, Mark, served as a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. Meanwhile, Aleecia, Ronin’s mom, stayed on the homefront in Minot, North Dakota, when her husband deployed around the world.
Right around Ronin’s birthday in 2018, Mark was set to return to Minot after an eight-month deployment in Al Udeid, Qatar. However, he and the rest of the 69th Bomb Squadron had their trip home delayed.
Ronin, of course, hoped his father would be around to celebrate his birthday. So as a consolation, Mark sent his son a special gift from his overseas post, and Aleecia recorded as their son opened it.
“All right, so who sent you the special package?” Aleecia asks as she begins recording. Ronin sits beside a package covered in bright red wrapping paper and responded, “Daddy. He is the best daddy in the whole wide world.”
Aleecia then asks her son from where in the world his father has managed to ship such a large present. “He sent it to me from Al Udeid,” Ronin replies. With that, his mom gives him the green light to unwrap the mysterious item.
By the time Ronin has removed all of the fire engine red paper and opens the cardboard box, he finds something unexpected inside. “Uh, another box,” he says, though, as he removes a second wrapped container from inside of the original one.
Affixed to the top of the second box is a letter from Ronin’s dad. “All right, what’s it say?” Aleecia asks from behind the camera. “Me! Ronin,” her son responds as he reads his own name on the note addressed to him.
“Read it out loud so I can hear it and send it to Daddy,” Aleecia requests. With that, Ronin begins to read his father’s words aloud. “Ronin, I am so sorry, but there have been quite a few problems happening here,” the letter begins.
“It looks like I will not be able to be home for your birthday this year. I am so sorry. I hope you understand, and I would have done anything to be with you,” Ronin continues. As he realizes his dad won’t make it home, he begins to cry.
Through his tears, Ronin reads the rest of his dad’s message. “I was able to get you a special surprise, so I hope this makes up for me not coming home. I love you with all my heart, and I miss you very much,” the letter concludes.
Next Aleecia encourages her son to focus on the present his father has sent. “You never know, it could be something special,” she tells him. But Ronin realizes that his mom is also upset at the news. Indeed, he responds, “You’re about to cry too.”
However, Aleecia will not relent. “Go ahead and open it, baby,” she tells her son again. Consequently , he rips back the red sheets of wrapping paper covering the second box. “Why is there so much boxes?” the young boy asks in exasperation.
“It was like box, box, box, box,” Ronin saying, not knowing that his frustration will only continue as he opens the second parcel. When he looks inside, he sees something that makes him scream. “Another box?!” he shouts.
Rainbow wrapping paper covers the third box, but the festiveness does little to change Ronin’s mind about the gift’s packaging. “Why one big package for this tiny thing?” he asks his mom, who can only encourage him to open the smallest parcel.
As he does, he predicts what he’ll find inside. “Another box,” Ronin declares, but his mom isn’t so sure. She records as her son finally unwraps and opens his present to find not another cardboard container but a second letter.
“All this for a note,” Ronin says as he pulls the piece of paper from the final gift. “What’s it say?” Aleecia inquires as her son unfolds another letter. He looks down and reads the message, his confusion clear in his voice.
“Surprise?” he says aloud, reading the single-word letter. Ronin then begins to rifle through the wrapping paper and boxes as though he’s missed something. “That’s… all it said,” he tells his mom before looking up and realizing what exactly the surprise is.
With that, a shocked Ronin drops the letter, throws the biggest box out of his way and runs across the room screaming. “Daddy!” he shouts, running toward his surprise – his father has actually come home from deployment for his son’s big day.
Ronin leaps into his dad’s arms, their first hug in eight months. “Daddy I missed you,” he says through tears, “Daddy, I love you.” His father, Mark, responds, saying, “I love you too. Was this a good surprise?” And it is clear from his son’s heartfelt reaction that it is.