Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011 | 3:56 p.m.
For the Ramos family, the first day of Christmas started Tuesday: Pairs of slippers and socks arrived on their Henderson doorstep.
It would be the first in a series of gifts. The family was chosen to be a part of In12Days, a volunteer-based project created by Suzanne Lea to bring holiday cheer to unsuspecting people throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
By Sunday — day six — the Ramos family had orders to be awake and ready by 10 a.m. for their next surprise. That’s when a blue bus from Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort arrived to shuttle the family to an overnight, all-expenses-paid getaway.
“We have something special for you for Day Six,” Lea announced at their doorstep. “Can you come on out?”
Alicia and Pascual Ramos shuffled outside with three of their sons — Clayton, 22, Joel, 18, and Oscar, 14 — and stood nervously eyeing the blue bus. (Another son, Nolan, 20, is in Phoenix.)
“I’m shaking,” Oscar whispered to his brother, Joel.
“Today is all about pure fun — nothing but fun — and that’s part of hope,” Lea later said. “We all work so hard. Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes the most important part is to stop all that and have fun.”
The Ramos family can certainly relate.
Their youngest son, Adam, died the day after Christmas last year from complications related to a tonsillectomy. He was 6.
“It’s been a hard time for us with losing our son,” Alicia Ramos said. “We really haven’t been in the spirit of Christmas,” his favorite time of year.
“This is an honor to have this done for us,” she said through tears. “It’s helped us to enjoy the holiday a little more.”
One by one, volunteers presented the family with six golden eggs, a tip of the hat to the song’s lyric, “On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me six geese a-laying.”
Each egg contained a message inside detailing the family’s surprise: an overnight stay in a private villa at the Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, with 80-minute massages for the parents, fly-fishing lessons for the sons, dinner compliments of chef Mark L. Ching, a refrigerator stocked with goodies and breakfast in bed Monday morning.
After a few stunned seconds of silence and tears, Alicia Ramos ushered her brood inside to quickly pack.
Oscar Ramos couldn’t stop smiling after receiving the news, although he used the word “shocked” to describe his feelings.
“I really didn’t think this was going to happen,” he said. “We just appreciate what everyone has done for us so far.”
As his family explored Loews Lake Las Vegas, Pascual Ramos stood in the lobby in a state of jubilant disbelief.
“Right now, I think they’re numb,” he said, before pausing and adding: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Lea created In12Days three years ago when she lost her husband, Bryan, to a sudden heart attack. The first holiday season after he died, anonymous donors left daily gifts for Lea and her two young sons corresponding to “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
The magical experience spurred Lea to pay it forward — with surprises so far this year for school children, child specialists at St. Jude’s Ranch, foster kids, a young couple and the Ramos family.