Richie McDonald Recalls Tearful Christmas Surprise
Richie McDonald and his wife Lorie enjoy an annual Christmas tradition they lovingly share with their three children -- son, Rhett, 13, and daughters Mollie, 11, and Maisie, 8.
"We try to go to [Nashville's] Opryland Hotel at Christmas time for a couple of days," the singer tells The Boot. "We let the kids take a present out there, and we stay in a room for two nights, and we'll let them open up a present. It's really beautiful out there."
Five years ago, after opening their gifts, Rhett, who was 8 at the time, gave his father a 'gift' that he'll never forget.
"Rhett sits down at the piano," Richie notes, choking up, "and he says, 'Daddy, here's your present.' And Rhett starts playing, 'I'm Already There.' [the multi-week No. 1 smash sung by Richie with his former group Lonestar]. He had learned the song that year, and I didn't even know that he had learned it."
Richie further explains his emotional response, saying that the song was inspired by his son, "and now he's playing it on the piano for me. I cried like a baby. My wife was running the video camera. Mollie was really young then, and you could see Mollie looking up at me, and you could tell she was just waiting for me to start bawling. She said, 'C'mon dad, cry.'"
Richie adds that he and his wife try to teach their children the "true meaning of Christmas, and that's Jesus Christ. But to see them and see the smiles on their faces, hear them talk about Santa Claus ... it's just a real special time of the year in our house. They get real excited. Everybody in our house really gets in the spirit of things."