For some parents, it could be a gamble to leave their teenage children at home while they go on vacation. So when Chip and Karen Schoonover decided to go out of town without their children, trusting they would manage on their own, naturally they had no idea just what sort of a sight would be awaiting them upon their return.
Four Daughters Anxiously Await Their Parents’ Return
The week had passed by too quickly for four South Carolina sisters. They were standing by the window waiting for their parents to return home, hearts racing. They were anxiously chatting, asking each other for their predictions of how their mom and dad would react to what they had been up to during their week-long vacation.
“Are they going to cry?” one of the sisters asked the others. “Will they be surprised?” another wondered out loud. Whatever their reaction would be, they were just a few minutes away from finding out. Their parents were pulling into the driveway at that very moment.
How The Home Alone Story Began
This home alone story began a few weeks before, when Chip and Karen Schoonover decided that they deserved some much-needed time away. With three out of their four children living at home, they knew that they could definitely use some alone time.
The couple was used to trips with all four of their daughters, but seeing as the family would all be together anyway for the holiday season, there would be plenty of time for shared meals and activities. What they needed was, instead, a chance to relax without the demands of parenting and other daily responsibilities. But in order to have some time to rest, first they had to make a difficult decision.
Karen and Chip Decide To Leave Their Daughters Home Alone
Karen and Chip wanted a week without their normal, day-to-day responsibilities. But as parents, their greatest task at hand was to make sure that their daughters would be okay while they were on vacation. Karen and Chip knew that all four of their daughters were able to take care of themselves, but at the end of the day most of them were still only teenagers.
The couple’s oldest child, Heather, was already married and living with her husband. The parents knew that their other three children would probably take advantage of having the entire house to themselves. But they did not expect anything like what they found when they returned home from their vacation.
Meeting The Daughters
It seems that Karen and Chip had a particular affinity for names that began with the letter H. Their daughters Heather, Hollie, Halice, and Haley, were all blessed with the same first initial. And while the sisters were close alphabetically, they were also pretty close in age and had tight-knit relationships with each other.
After Heather had moved out on her own a few years prior, the second oldest in the family, Hollie, seemed to become the leader of the pack. As soon as Hollie heard about her parents’ upcoming vacation, she came up with an idea that might just have been crazy enough to work. First, she needed to get her sisters on board.
Wanting To Give Their Parents A Christmas Surprise
At first, Hollie only knew that she wanted to do something special for her parents for Christmas. The issue was that she was not sure exactly what that surprise would involve. Nothing seemed to be quite grand enough, nor elaborate enough. She wanted this Christmas to be the biggest one yet.
Hollie might not have been sure as to what she wanted to try to pull off for the holidays, but she did know that whatever it was would have to involve her sisters. The scale of what she had in mind would be too much to take on alone. So before anything got started, Hollie knew that she would have to get all four of her sisters to unite.
Deciding To Document The Big Idea
Of course, when Hollie’s sisters heard that she wanted to plan something elaborate for their parents, they were all ready to help out however they could. The sisters began to think of ideas for gifts that would really surprise their parents, and think about how exactly they would pull off some of the wilder schemes they had in mind.
After brainstorming and deliberating for a few days, the sisters were pretty confident that they had come up with an idea neither of their parents could possibly see coming. It would take a lot of work, and there was no telling how the outcome would go. But the sisters thought, “What could possibly go wrong?”
A Much Needed Renovation
Karen and Chip had lived together in the same home since before any of their four daughters were born. There was a treasure trove of incredible memories stored inside of those walls, but unfortunately those very walls were covered in some pretty atrocious wallpaper. And the problems with the home had definitely not stopped there.
The sisters saw how hard both of their parents worked, and also noticed that they did not seem to have time to do projects that would update their home. Over the years, the meaningless junk around the house had piled up. The carpeting, the paint, the furniture, and just about everything else badly needed a makeover. The girls thought it would be a fun project, but they were about to face some tough realities.
Starting The Gigantic Project
To kick off the project, all four of the sisters started getting to work on cleaning the home. And, as any teenagers would, they decided together that the youngest sister, Haley, would be the one to document the entire process as it all unfolded. She recorded on her phone to show their parents once everything had been finished.
The sisters thought that this first step of the project would take half a day. Instead, they found themselves throwing out trash for the entire first day of their parents’ vacation. “They have a lot of trash,” Haley said in one of her videos. But if the sisters thought that scrubbing up was a lot of work, there was a rude awakening awaiting them just around the corner.
Going From The Ground Up
Finally, after a full day of work, the house was clean and ready for the real renovations to begin. And there was no question which change had to come first. For as long as these sisters could remember, there was one glaring problem with their home that both they and their parents hated: that dull, ugly wall-to-wall carpeting.
With no previous renovation experience, the sisters began to tear up the carpet. They took out a screen in one of the living room windows and started to toss the carpeting outside to be taken to the trash. At this point, there was no turning back. The renovations were underway, and the four sisters were hoping that their gift would not turn out to become a huge mess.
Farewell, Drab Furniture
Now that all of the carpeting was out, the girls were working with a nearly blank slate. Their next task was to remove all of the boring, uninspired furniture that filled up the living room, guest bedroom, and kitchen. Weeks before their parents had left for their vacation, the sisters had picked out new furniture and collected the necessary funds to furnish their house.
They worked together to do what all of them felt should have been done long ago. The worn-out furnishings were carted off to the trash. Now arose yet another project that was much harder than expected, requiring another full day of work. But the clock was ticking — and the girls began to seriously worry that their work would not be done in time.
In Over Their Heads
The truth was that when Heather, Hollie, Halice, and Haley planned for this home renovation, they hadn’t really considered that none of them had the proper experience needed for the job. They were winging it, and it was starting to show. Their timeline kept getting pushed farther and farther back.
It was easy to watch an HGTV show and see a full home transformation in the span of an hour. But in reality, the work took up an extraordinary amount of time. Every time they completed one part of the project, another problem seemed to spring up out of nowhere. They were exhausted, and needed to bring in more help fast.
Working Against The Ticking Clock
Each day, the four sisters worked from morning until well into the night, trying their utmost to complete the project in time. They frantically painted walls, refinished cabinets, installed new kitchen appliances, unwrapped furniture, and drank their fair share of energy drinks.
With such a huge task still ahead of them, they enlisted Heather’s husband to come help with some of the renovations. Because of conflicting schedules, there were days where only two of the sisters were available to work on the home, further hindering their timeline. Just one day remained before their parents returned from vacation. They knew they would have to do something drastic.
Scrambling Against Time
The sisters had been working on the home for almost an entire week, and so far all they had created was a mess. By now, they had one day left before their parents arrived home, and there was far too much to be done. They had no other choice but to do what all of them had been dreading.
Together, the four sisters and Heather’s husband decided to stay up all night to complete the home renovation. One sister brought home a pack of energy drinks and they got to work. They needed to buy as much time as they could, so they decided to come up with a clever diversion.
Stewing Up A Scheme
Since Heather had moved out years before, she had not found the time to visit her family as much as she would have liked. With this in mind, the sisters decided that they would buy some extra time to finish up the home by having Heather greet them in the driveway.
The surprise, they thought, could earn them at least a few extra minutes as their parents embraced their oldest sister outside. But that would only work for so long. Even this quick distraction would not move the deadline very much, and they were not quite prepared for what they were about to face.
Panic Sets In
After a week that seemed to have both lasted forever and simultaneously to have passed them by in the blink of an eye, finally Karen and Chip were back from vacation. The parents were ready to return home and relax in their living room after a long day of travel.
They were excited to see the girls, but couldn’t help feeling a bit nervous about what could have transpired while they were away. Meanwhile, back at the house, the four children were still panicking about finishing up, and wondering how their parents would react. As soon as Karen and Chip pulled into the driveway, the pair knew that something was up.
As soon as Chip and Karen’s white sedan pulled into the driveway, Heather ran out to greet and hug them. The parents were excited and definitely surprised to see their daughter, but this in fact only added to their anxiety and suspicion.
As Karen approached, she began to voice that she could detect something was different. “Who cleaned the house?” she asked while she stood on the porch. The girls then took their mother and father aside and told them that they had a surprise for both of them. The pair were instructed to take a few deep breaths before they went inside.
No Idea What Was To Come
Leaving their young daughters home alone was already nerve-wracking enough for Karen and Chip. Now, their children were circled around them telling them to take deep breaths before they entered their own home. What could the girls possibly have been up to while they were gone?
Karen grew even more worried than she had been before. Hollie told her mother and father that the surprises had just begun, and that Heather was at the house for a reason. Could it be that she was a buffer to take attention off something they had done? Karen had no idea what was coming, but she stepped inside.
What Was Cooking In The Kitchen
Immediately after Karen entered her home, she began to cry. The messy kitchen that she had left behind was not only clean, but it had gone through a total and complete transformation. The old, tearing wallpaper had been replaced by light blue paint, and the chipped, pink coating on the cabinets had been covered with new dark cabinets.
The peeling counter tops were now covered in beautiful granite, and the faded curtains were traded in for a bright, flowing white fabric. Just about everything in the kitchen was different. Karen was in shock. But the surprises for the lucky parents were only just beginning.
A Room To Truly Live In
After taking some time to look around the kitchen, Karen and Chip’s daughters led them to the living room for the next phase of their epic Christmas gift. Immediately, the parents noticed that the home no longer had its signature blue, drab carpeting. Instead, the family was strolling over fresh hardwood floors.
In the living room, the old couch was no longer, and in its place were two brand new, plush leather sofas. The girls had outfitted their new wooden-floored living room with a new side table, a new rug, a coffee table, and a fresh coat of paint. Karen could not contain her excitement. “Oh my gosh,” she exclaimed repeatedly as she walked around the living room. If the public spaces were impressive, they had something jaw-dropping awaiting them in the bedroom.
An Unimaginable Transformation
The living room and kitchen were a success, and the daughters were ready to show their parents more of their renovations. They led Karen and Chip to their master bedroom, and Karen’s tears kept flowing as she saw how they had transformed not only her bedroom, but also their guest bedroom, into something worthy of its own HGTV show.
Both rooms had a new coat of light blue paint, brand new hardwood floors, new artwork, and fresh, untouched bedding. “Merry Christmas,” the girls said in unison as they were all standing in the master bedroom. They had pulled off the huge project, and Karen and Chip were speechless. But there was yet another surprise awaiting them.
Recording The Entire Walk Through
Haley had taken her specific responsibilities very seriously. Throughout the renovations, up to the parents’ return home, and even during the tour, Haley recorded everything that she could. The hope was that the daughters could give their parents one last Christmas gift: a documentation of their efforts, so that their parents could relive the heartwarming moments all over again.
Haley began to edit the video once they had finished revealing all of their renovations. She posted it on YouTube and on Facebook so that her parents and sisters could share the entire moment with their family and friends. But what ended up happening with the clip was beyond all expectation.
The Video Hits The Internet
Together, Heather, Hollie, Halice, Haley, and parents Chip and Karen, posted the video on their Facebook pages. As soon as it had been uploaded, word spread in their online community like wildfire. It began as just their friends and family liking and sharing the heartwarming Christmas gift and commenting on the mind-blowing renovations.
Haley was pretty proud of her work, and was monitoring the video view count as it continued to steadily grow. Before she knew it, everyone in their South Carolina town had heard about the home renovation. The entire family was excited — until one of them saw something surprising on their Facebook news feed.
A Surprising Discovery On Social Media
Halice was scrolling through her social media feed when she saw something that she recognized: it was herself and her sisters in a story, re-posted by a major news outlet. The newspaper had caught wind of their video, and soon enough their story had gone from a cute hometown moment to a nationwide viral sensation.
In full snowball mode, more magazines and newspapers began to feature the story, and local and national news channels started playing the video on television. The video had racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube, and thousands of shares on Facebook. But even with all of this extra attention, there were still only two people who really mattered.
Defying All Expectations
It had been weeks since Chip and Karen came home to the surprise of their lives, and they still could not believe their eyes every time they stepped inside through the front door. Their daughters had pulled off something that they themselves had pushed off for years, and had carried it out even better than they could have imagined.
“I kind of expected to come home to a clean house, but not a totally new house,” Karen would later tell reporters. All of her fears about leaving her daughters home alone were quickly replaced with gratitude and appreciation for the family that she and Chip had built. They were surrounded by love and freshly-painted, newly-decorated walls.
The Ultimate Act Of Holiday Kindness
The four daughters and their parents carried on with their lives after they had achieved their Internet stardom. They did not have a new home, but it definitely felt like it. Beyond that, they came away with more than just a renovated home, but a lesson that would stick with them.
The girls’ act of kindness in preparing this fantastic Christmas gift for the two people they loved most was not only inspiring for their family and friends. It went to show thousands of people across the country and around the world that such a feat could be accomplished on one’s own, without any professional help.
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